The MSGBC region – covering Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Guinea Conakry – unlike other high production markets in West and Northern Africa, has seen relatively small-scale energy sector developments since the early 2000s. However, with the discovery of significant natural gas deposits offshore Mauritania and Senegal, the region is redirecting its attention to the exploitation and monetization of gas, with the aim of establishing an African gas province that will incite accelerated, regional socio-economic growth. But what do these discoveries mean for the wider region and how can these countries ensure sectoral developments reap tangible benefits for regional communities?
Major discoveries made in Senegal and Mauritania, in particular, demonstrate significant hydrocarbon potential, enabling the region to utilize energy sector directed development as a catalyst for sustained, and regionally focused economic growth. In 2015, U.S.-based Kosmos Energy discovered the Grand Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) ultra-deep-water gas find in waters straddling Mauritania’s Block C8, estimated to hold over 15 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas. Four years later in 2019, Kosmos Energy and BP announced another significant offshore discovery in Mauritania estimated to hold 13 tcf of gas initially in place (GIIP). Additionally, in neighboring Senegal, discoveries in the Sangomar offshore block revealed hydrocarbon potential of 563 million barrels of oil and 1.3 tcf of recoverable natural gas reserves, and in the Cayar offshore block showed 25 tcf of GIIP. In total, Senegal is estimated to hold 23 tcf of recoverable reserves while Mauritania has 38 tcf, demonstrating significant developmental opportunities for the region.
In pursuit of an African natural gas province, enabled through the development and monetization of these natural gas discoveries, Senegal and Mauritania have joined forces to establish a viable natural gas economy that will not only reap significant benefits for the two countries, but for the wider cooperative region. Accordingly, the countries are collaboratively working together to develop the $4.8 billion GTA project, led by BP and Kosmos, with the focus on expanding domestic gas utilization, increasing exports to generate revenue, and initiate much-needed economic growth.
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