France’s Total has signed two exploration licences with the Mauritania’s government, giving it a 90 per cent stake in the offshore Block C9 and onshore Block Ta 29.

State-owned Mauritanian Hydrocarbon Company (SMH) holds the remaining 10 per cent stake in each block. For both blocks, a seismic acquisition campaign is planned as the first phase of the exploration programme, according to a 6 January Total statement.

Block C9 covering an area of more than 10,000 square kilometres is located approximately 140 kilometres offshore in the Atlantic with water depths ranging from 2,500 to 3,000 metres.

Block Ta 29 lies in the Taoudeni basin in the Sahara desert, 1,000 kilometres east from Nouakchott and north of Block Ta 7, where Total is already conducting exploration activities along with Qatar Petroleum International and Algerian International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation (MEED 30:5:08).

“The new onshore block is on the same trend as onshore Block Ta 7, on which latest exploration results show good prospectivity in this part of the Taoudeni basin,” says Marc Blaizot, Total’s senior vice-president for exploration.