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Mali is a remote, largely desert country with no identified oil or gas fields and limited exploration. It overlies the West African Craton and contains a number of sedimentary basins.

The Taoudeni Basin, named after Taoudeni village in northern Mali, covers large parts of the basement in the north of the country and is the largest sedimentary basin in Northwest Africa. It formed during the late Precambrian and early Palaeozoic, subsiding until Hercynian deformation and uplift occurred. It contains up to 6000m of sediments, thickest in the west. Potential source rocks and reservoirs occur in the Precambrian, Silurian and Late Devonian.

The Nara Trough lies in the west. It is an intra-cratonic rift/sag basin containing Mesozoic sediments, although little is known about its stratigraphy. Similarly the relatively unknown Tamesna Basin lies in the east extending into Niger and Algeria. Oil-prone source rocks were identified here in a well drilled in 1983.

Finally the Gao Graben in the south is a part of the Central African Rift system extending from Nigeria and Mali in the west to Sudan and Kenya in the east. Similar rifts are productive in Chad. A potential petroleum system could be lacustrine Cretaceous shales with syn and post-rift deltaic sandstones as reservoir rocks within fault block traps.

Although no petroleum potential has been identified in Mali, there remains potential for oil or gas fields. However, the remote location and harsh environment of the Sahara Desert makes exploration and production expensive. Globalshift believes that commercial field developments, at least in the short and medium term, are unlikely.

North and Northwest Africa