Shell’s freshly-released ‘Payments to Governments’ report for 2018 reveals that the major handed over $75mn to Mauritania to secure the two exploration blocks it snagged last July (MEES, 27 July). This is a surprisingly high sum given that the country currently has zero production and until a year ago more companies were leaving than entering.

Shell paid a $45mn signing bonus for block C-10 which surrounds several former discoveries including the Chinguetti oil field,...