Capricorn has a 90% WI as Operator in Block C7 offshore Mauritania. The licence has a two-year first exploration period. An environmental baseline and drilling site survey was completed in Q1 2022 with data gathered to inform a drilling decision ahead of the next licence phase.
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Environmental Baseline Survey in Mauritania
In 2021, we planned a combined EBS and geophysical and geotechnical site survey of the Dauphin prospect, Block C7, off the coast of Mauritania. The survey commenced in January 2022.
The Dauphin prospect is located in deep water on the edge of the continental shelf and is intersected by subsea canyon systems. Previous surveys identified the presence of cold-water corals and other sensitive seabed-dwelling species. Undertaking an EBS before starting any work will inform future exploration decisions and help to mitigate potential impacts to this ecosystem.
The site lies 25 km from the marine boundary of the Parc National du Banc d’Arguin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As an important first stage to understanding sensitivities and concerns, we have engaged with key stakeholders including government officials, UNESCO, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Nature Mauritanie, and local fishing communities.
The EBS in Mauritania will also be the first in which we have used environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis – the genomic study of organisms in the environment – of sediment and water samples. We believe that using eDNA has the potential to be cheaper and faster, and to provide more complete biodiversity data, than conventional methods. It will form a cornerstone of future baseline surveys.
Stakeholder Engagement in Mauritania
As we plan for our first operated activity in Mauritania, stakeholder engagement with local communities and organisations is front of mind. To inform this dialogue, in early 2021 we commissioned a third-party specialist to deliver a stakeholder-scoping report.
This report examined considerations including the socio-economic context of Mauritania, the concerns and priorities of key stakeholders, and the history of engagement with the oil and gas sector. It also looked in detail at some of the key facets of the stakeholder landscape in Mauritania, such as the significant environmental and biodiversity importance offshore; the UNESCO-protected World Heritage Site of Parc National du Banc d’Arguin and its local communities of Imraguen people; and the importance of the fishing industry to the national economy.
Combined with engagement with our peers and with government and authority bodies in-country, it has been instrumental in helping us to engage with stakeholders around the EBS, which commenced in January 2022.
Having presented our proposed Stakeholder Engagement Plan for government feedback, we sought to engage with key NGOs and representatives of the local fishing communities. Information about the grievance mechanism established to support the EBS activity was shared through information leaflets provided in both French and Arabic.