During their last meeting on January 11 and 12, 2024, in Nouakchott, Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Mohamed Cheikh Ghazouani of Mauritania extensively discussed the Grand Tortue Ahmeyim gas field, which has been led since 2021 by Azerbaijani Emil Ismayilov, Senior Vice President of BP Mauritania and Senegal. According to our sources, the conversation focused on the newly announced delay of at least six months by the BP-Kosmos consortium for the export of the first cubic meter. Thus, the start date has been pushed from the first quarter of 2024 to the third, without a firm commitment from the British giant, which has been at odds with many of its contractors involved in the project in recent months. More than the delay, it was the capital expenditures that angered the two heads of state. To address this critical aspect of any Production Sharing Contract (PSC), they referred the matter to their ministers and experts.
Hence, the meeting on January 18 and 19, 2024, in Dakar, which focused on “the overall impact of the delays recorded in the execution of the project and the announced cost increases,” as stated in a joint press release signed by the Minister of Petroleum, Mines, and Energy of Mauritania and the Minister of Petroleum and Energies of Senegal. “Following the instructions of the heads of state of Senegal and Mauritania and in accordance with their perfect convergence of views, the two ministers reaffirmed their constant determination to work for the success of the project, to guarantee the rights of the contractors and to preserve the interests of their nations in connection with the GTA project, whose gas production start is now projected for the third quarter of 2024.”
Moreover, the two ministers remain vigilant about the expense sheet and the costs induced by this delay. “Aware of the strategic importance of this project, given its expected contribution to the economic development of their countries, the ministers and their teams remain vigilant regarding the operational, economic, and financial conditions of the development of the shared resources, in partnership with BP and Kosmos Energy.” The joint statement, a case study in pragmatism and diplomatic restraint, concludes with a commitment from both ministers to maintain their “permanent consultations” to ensure the economic viability of the project while preserving the interests of their respective populations. The Grand Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) project between Mauritania and Senegal was born in 2015 with the major discovery of gas in the deep waters at the maritime border between the two countries. These discoveries are the result of exploration by Kosmos Energy and BP. In February 2018, the two countries signed an intergovernmental agreement for the joint development and exploitation of the GTA field.
Preliminary works started at the end of 2018, including environmental and social impact studies, as well as detailed project planning and the finalization of partnership agreements between the main stakeholders, namely BP, Kosmos Energy, Petrosen (Senegal), and SMHPM (Mauritania). The construction of the necessary infrastructure began in 2020, including offshore facilities for the extraction and treatment of gas, as well as the construction of the pipeline to transport the gas to the onshore treatment facilities, with delays attributed to the Covid-2019 pandemic. In July 2021, the GTA project was granted the status of a National Project of Strategic Importance by the Presidents of Mauritania and Senegal. The first phase of the project was initially scheduled to enter service around 2022-2023, with goals for large-scale natural gas production and expor