An oil & gas developer has been granted exclusive rights to develop a green hydrogen project of up to 10GW in Mauritania that could include Africa’s first offshore wind farm.

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The West African nation’s government has signed a memorandum of understanding with London-listed Chariot Ltd — which has until now focused on offshore oil & gas plays off Morocco, Namibia and Brazil — to progress the giant Nour wind/solar/H2 project.

Chariot has been given exclusive development rights to three massive zones — one offshore, stretching across about 160km of Atlantic coast from the country’s northern border, and two in unpopulated desert regions.

“Project Nour has been given exclusivity over an onshore and offshore area totalling approximately 14,400km2 to carry out pre-feasibility and feasibility studies with the intention of generating electricity from solar and wind resources to be used in electrolysis to split water to produce green hydrogen and oxygen,” Chariot said in a statement.

“Benefiting from Mauritania’s world-class solar and wind resources, Project Nour has the potential to allow Mauritania to produce the cheapest green hydrogen in Africa and to become one of the world’s main producers and exporters of green hydrogen and its derivative products, close to potential large European markets.”

The offshore zone granted to the project has wind speeds of more than 10 metres per second, rivalling those in the North Sea, while solar insolation levels are among the highest in the world.

The Guernsey-headquartered developer — which was called Chariot Oil & Gas until earlier this year — says it intends to “carry out [a] partnering process on the project with the objective to form a world-class consortium”.

Chariot is not the first company to spot the development potential for wind- and solar-powered green hydrogen in Mauritania.

In May, Australia-headquartered developer CWP Global signed a memorandum of understanding with the Mauritanian government to build the 30GW wind/solar/green hydrogen Aman project on an 8,500km2 site in the country’s northern desert — although CWP does not appear to have been granted any exclusive development rights.

“Developing Mauritania’s green hydrogen industry promises to bring a combination of environmental, economic and social benefits to our country,” said minister of petroleum, mines and energy, Abdessalam Ould Mohamed Saleh. “We have the potential, and desire, to be a world leader in the field of hydrogen production from renewable energy sources.”