Italian oil and gas group Eni has pulled out of Mali because of the poor prospecting outlook in the African country, an Eni spokesman said. 'Eni has handed back licenses it had because of the very low potential of the area,' the spokesman said. The licenses were handed back before the recent outbreak of fighting in the country, he said.
France intervened in Mali recently in an effort to block an advance by rebel fighters whom the West fear could use the West African nation as a launching pad for international attacks.
Eni is the biggest foreign oil major in Africa and has identified the continent as one of its key drivers for growth.
Eni, in partnership with Algeria's state-owned Sonatrach, said in 2006 it had acquired 5 exploration licenses in Mali's Taoudeni Basin. Eni acquired a 50% participating interest along with operatorship from Baraka Mali Operations Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the public company Baraka Petroleum Limited, and the private company Baraka Mali Ventures Limited, which originally had 75% and 25% interest respectively in the licences. Sonatrach acquired a 25% interest in the licences through its subsidiary Sipex. The blocks - Blocks 1, 2, 3, 4 & 9 - were located in the Taoudeni Basin.