KASSEL, Germany, May 31 (UPI) -- German energy company Wintershall said Thursday it handed two onshore licenses back to the Mauritanian government because they weren't commercial.
Wintershall said it returned license areas Ta5 and Ta6 back to the Energy Ministry in Mauritania.
"Although it was possible to prove the existence of hydrocarbons in the hottest and driest part of the Sahara in the studies conducted, the evaluation of the results of the exploration activities indicates that commercial production is not possible," the company said in a statement.
The company said it's been working in the Taoudeni Basin along the border region between Mali and Algeria since 2006. Seismic surveys were conducted in 2010 but the company said it was too risky to go ahead with discovery operations for hydrocarbons that can't be commercially recovered.
In January, French supermajor Total said it secured deals with the government of Mauritania to start exploring frontier areas in the West African country. Total is already exploring for oil in northeastern Mauritania.
The U.S. Energy Information Agency ranks Mauritania at 73rd in the world in terms of crude oil production.