ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Mauritania Deepwater have signed production sharing contracts (PSCs) with the Government of Mauritania, clearing the way for exploration of three deepwater offshore blocks off the country’s coast.

The PSCs give ExxonMobil the opportunity to acquire exploration acreage in the blocks, which are located an average of 200km offshore Mauritania.

The three blocks C22, C17 and C14 measure a combined 8.4 million acres, in water depths ranging from 1,000m to more than 3,500m.

ExxonMobil Exploration Company president Steve Greenlee said: “These blocks further enhance ExxonMobil’s leading global deepwater acreage position.

“We thank the government of Mauritania for the opportunity to evaluate the potential of this acreage using our expertise and advanced technology.”

Once government approval of the contracts has been received, the company will commence exploration activities, including the acquisition of seismic data and analysis.

The company will undertake the work programme as the operator with a 90% interest.

“The three blocks C22, C17 and C14 measure a combined 8.4 million acres, in water depths ranging from 1,000m to more than 3,500m.”

The remaining 10% interest is held by Societe Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures et de Patrimoine Minier.

Other firms with operations in the country include Tullow Oil, and Kosmos Energy.

Tullow has exploration and production activities, including exploration acreage position extending along some 750km of coastline and producing interest in the Chinguetti oilfield.

Recently, the company completed a 3D survey in Block C3 to cover new shallow water plays.

Kosmos’s acreage is located in the Mauritania salt basin, which has a working petroleum system, as well as the potential for both oil and gas-condensate.

The company made discoveries in the Greater Tortue area, alongside another gas discovery in the northern part of block C8.