The company, the overseas investment arm of state-owned energy company Qatar Petroleum, has acquired a 20 per cent stake in the Taoudenni Ta7 and Ta8 permits in the centre of the country, north of Tidjikja.

The two permits have a total surface area of 58,000 square kilometres. Total, the operator on both blocks, acquired 3,260 kilometres of 2D seismic data on the blocks in 2006-07. Completion of the sale is subject to approval by Mauritania’s energy and water ministry.

Total signed production-sharing contracts with Nouakchott for the two blocks in January 2005. It later divested a 20 per cent share to Algerian state energy company Sonatrach in March 2008. Following the latest deal, the French company now retains a 60 per cent stake.

It is the second investment in North African oil and gas assets by a Gulf-based national oil company in recent days.

Mubadala Development Company, an investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government, announced on 1 April the acquisition of a 20 per cent stake in the Algerian exploration and production ventures of the UK/Dutch Shell Group (MEED 1:04:08).