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Desert cliffs

Mali (the Republic of Mali) is land-locked, bordered by Mauritania and Senegal to the east, Algeria and Niger to the west, and Guinea and Burkina Faso to the south.

Mali was ruled by the Ghana Empire from the 8th century. After defeat by the Almoravids of Morocco in 1078 the Mali Empire progressively expanded, trading in gold, salt and slaves. At the end of the 14th century the Songhai Empire from northern Nigeria took over as the Mali empire disintegrated. In 1591 this, in turn, collapsed after a Moroccan invasion and the importance of Mali as a trading route also declined.

Three centuries later France took control and in 1905 established the area as French Sudan. In 1959 it changed its name to the Sudanese Republic, uniting with Senegal to become the Mali Federation.

The Federation gained independence in 1960 but Senegal soon withdrew and the Sudanese Republic declared itself as the Republic of Mali. After steady economic decline a coup in 1991 led to the establishment of Mali as a democratic state.

The country's economy improved, based on agriculture and natural resources, including gold  and salt. However, a rebellion in 2012 forced troops, with the help of France, having to retake the northern area from Islamic insurgents.

Mali is land-locked. Most of its northern part extends into the Sahara desert. The southern part, where most of the population is located, is cut by the Niger and Senegal rivers.

The country overlies the West African Craton and contains a number of sedimentary basins. The most well-known is the Taoudeni Basin in the north of the country which also underlies Mauritania and Algeria. It contains a thick succession of late Precambrian and early Palaeozoic sediments. Other basins are barely explored and little is known about their stratigraphy.

Five unsuccessful wells were drilled up to 1985 almost all in the Taoudeni Basin and in 1982 one reportedly had gas shows. However, activity ceased in 1985 until 2004 when companies began to evaluate this basin again. No further wells have yet been drilled.

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


Map and National Flag

North and Northwest Africa


E and P


Oil and gas summary Brief history of the country



Land area (sq kms)

Oil prod (000s b/d)

Gas prod (bcm/yr)

Oil cons (000s b/d)

Gas cons (bcm/yr)


Mali’s system of government is semi-presidential with executive power vested in a president elected to a 5-year term limited to two terms. The president is chief of state and commander in chief of the armed forces.

An appointed prime minister is head of government and appoints the Council of Ministers. A unicameral 160-member National Assembly is elected for a 5-year term.

The Authority for the Promotion of Oil Exploration (AUREP) is responsible for oil and gas resources overseen by the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water.


13.3 mm






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