“These blocks further enhance ExxonMobil’s leading global deep-water acreage position,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company in a statement. “We thank the government of Mauritania for the opportunity to evaluate the potential of this acreage using our expertise and advanced technology,” he added.
The company has acquired interests in Blocks C22, C17 and C14, which encompass almost 8.4 million acres in water depths ranging from 3300ft to 11,500ft (1000m to over 3500m). The three blocks are located an average of 124 miles (200km) offshore Mauritania, ExxonMobil announced on Monday (4 December).
Following government approval of the contracts, ExxonMobil will begin exploration activities, including acquisition of seismic data and analysis.
ExxonMobil will carry out the work program as operator with 90 percent interest. Société Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures et de Patrimoine Minier holds a 10 percent interest, the statement noted.
Interest has surged in oil and gas fields offshore of Mauritania and neighbor Senegal since big discoveries by Cairn Energy and Kosmos Energy. Kosmos Energy has partnered with BP, in separate projects over the last three years. Both are expected to start production early next decade.
Experts describe the deep waters there as the next big frontier in energy drilling, though the true size of the deposits is not yet known. BP next year plans to make a final investment decision on a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that would ship West African gas worldwide.