Mauritania has laid out detailed plans to become a leading exporter of natural gas and green hydrogen, while also using these resources to develop and decarbonise the country.

The North African nation hosts BP’s planned BirAllah liquefied natural gas project and shares the supermajor’s Greater Tortue Ahmeyim LNG project with Senegal, while it has asked fast-track LNG player New Fortress Energy to come up with a development solution for the small Banda gas field.

The Nouakchott-based government, whose head of state is President Mohamed Ibn Sheikh Al-Ghazouani, also wants to build on its impressive wind and solar resources and is working on two proposed green hydrogen projects with London-listed Chariot and Australia’s CWP Global, with a combined potential capacity of 40 gigawatts.

In addition, state-owned mining player SNIM has signed a memorandum of understanding with ArcelorMittal to assess the feasibility of developing a direct reduced iron plant, essentially a method of producing steel using green hydrogen.

Speaking in front of Ghazouani at a major energy transition event this week in Nouakchott, Minister of Petroleum, Energy & Mines Abdel Salam Old Mohamed Saleh, said: “The path of energy transformation in our country will follow three major stages.”

The first phase is from 2022 to 2025 where oil and gas resources will be developed “by enhancing partnership with our major private sector partners, BP, Kosmos, Shell, TotalEnergies, Capricorn and others” under a gas and oil development master plan, he added.

Saleh said phase two, running from 2025 to 2030, would involve consolidating and expanding gas projects, as well as introducing decarbonisation technologies — especially in Mauritania’s major iron and gold mining sectors — and implementing large-scale renewable energy schemes.

From 2030 onwards, he said the government plans to develop “extensive” ammonia and green hydrogen production capacity, at a time when “gas production is likely to peak”, while assessing blue hydrogen and carbon capture schemes.

By 2045, the goal is to have gas-fired power plants up and running with a total capacity of more than 1700 megawatts, with the domestic market also supplied with LNG and compressed natural gas.

Green steel, iron ore, fertiliser and cement plants could be operational by 2028, while between 2036 and 2045, gas-to-liquids, methanol and desalination schemes may also be up and running.

Saleh said that underpinning this industrialisation drive are “three core goals”.

The first is to enhance its energy security and become a reliable supplier of gas and renewable energy, while the second goal is to “end energy poverty” by ensuring all Mauritania’s 4.8 million citizens have access to electricity by 2030.

Lastly, Nouakchott intends to use its domestic energy resources to drive economic and social development by encouraging private investment, reducing energy prices and increasing energy supplies to domestic industries, including mining, fishing, industry, agriculture and animal husbandry.

As well as developing gas-fired power plants and a country-wide power network linking all the state capitals, there are plans to transport gas to mines.

Mauritania also aims to become a major producer of green steel, building on its abundant renewable energy resources and major iron ore resources, according to Saleh.

He said these targets may seem “difficult” to meet, but expressed confidence they “remain within the scope of possibility” given Mauritania’s natural resources.

He said the nation’s gas resources are estimated to be more “more than 100 trillion cubic metres”, while its combined solar and wind power potential is estimated at 4000 GW of which 500 GW could be developed in an environmentally “stringent” way.

In addition, Saleh stressed that Mauritania also has “massive” iron ore reserves estimated at more than 1.5 billion tonnes.

These ambition targets, he said, “align perfectly with international conventions related to climate change and with global dynamics aimed at accelerating energy transition. It is also in line with [the government’s] sustainable development agenda”.

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