Mauritania has become one of Africa’s latest oil producers thanks to the discovery of the Chinguetti oil field, 50 miles off the coast of Nouakchott. This new resource shakes up a country with a weak civil society, unstable democratic institutions, a lack of skilled personnel and rampant corruption. But worse than the usual curse it brings in terms of political instabilities and numerous coups, this time oil could also be a terrible economic predator.
Oil production has started with an installation that poses a threat to the environment and could endanger the future of thousands of African and European fishermen from Senegal to Spain, Japan and even Russia. Australian oil producer Woodside has converted an old super-tanker, the Berge-Hélène in Singapore into an FPSO platform. The single-hull Berge Hélène not only doesn’t respect the international standard of double-hull FPSOs, but it already suffers from microfissures due to its old age.
Any accident or collision resulting in an oil spill could endanger the entire coast including the Banc d’Arguin national park, a world heritage site and unique marine reserve the size of the Nile Delta, crucial for fish spawning and bird migrations, worth hundreds of millions of Euros in future fish stocks.
Today, Mauritania is faced with a difficult dilemma in terms of sustainable development. Should it regulate its oil production more strictly, with the help of international scientists and environmental agencies, or face the risk of a natural and economic disaster? Should it endanger a renewable resource with a production of a fossil fuel that is not even keeping up to its initial promises?
Director: Thierry Nutchey
Producers: French Connection Films, France Télévisions, MDC Prod (Maison des cinéastes mauritaniens)
Length: 52 minutes
Languages: English, French
Partners: CNC, Brussels Airlines, Canon France, PRCM, IRD, IUCN, Procirep, ANGOA
Broadcasters: France Ô, TV5 Monde, RTBF, RTBF Sat, Brussels Airlines, Planète (Canada)
International Festival of Audiovisual Programs (FIPA) 2010 (Biarritz)
SENAF Festival in Nouakchott 2009