PARIS, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- French supermajor Total announced it landed two deals with the government of Mauritania to start exploring frontier areas in the West African country.
Total announced it takes operatorship of blocks in the ultra deep waters off the western coast of Mauritania and in the Sahara Desert with a 90 percent working interest.
"The license award is aligned with Total's strategy of expanding its exploration operations into high-potential geological plays while leveraging the group's globally recognized ultra-deepwater expertise," said Marc Blaizot, a senior vice president for exploration at Total, in a statement.
The offshore bloc is located about 85 miles off the coast of Mauritania and is situated in water depths ranging from 8,000 to 9,800 feet. The onshore block is located in the Taoudeni basin in the Sahara Desert.
Total is already exploring for oil in the northeast of the country. Blaizot said there was "good prospectivity" in the region.
The U.S. Energy Information Agency ranks Mauritania at 73rd in the world in terms of crude oil production.
Last year, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for the country because of fears of terrorist activity linked to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.