Tullow Oil, the UK-based Irish explorer with the most licences in Africa, will start work on a natural gas project in Mauritania once talks with potential buyers are finished, said Tim O'Hanlon, vice-president of African business.
Construction of facilities, including pipelines for the Banda gas field, will begin after customer negotiations are finished at the end of next year, he said in an interview on the sidelines of an industry conference in Nouakchott, the capital, yesterday.
Gas production is planned for late 2014 or early 2015, he said.
Mauritania, a $3.6bn (€2.7bn) economy which earns foreign currency from exports of iron ore, gold and fish, plans to build a power plant to use Banda gas, the state-owned 'Horizons' newspaper reported in July.
Tullow, which has a 22pc stake in the country's Chinguetti field, estimates reserves at Banda of 500 billion cubic feet, Mr O'Hanlon said.
Kinross Gold Corp's Tasiast gold mine is also planning to use Banda gas for electricity production, he said. Talks are being held with other potential buyers, according to Mr O'Hanlon.
Tullow is the largest Irish company by market capitalisation and is headed up by chief executive Aidan Heavey.