MILAN, Jan 15 (Reuters) - 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 on Tuesday.
"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 last Friday 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, in partnership with Algeria's state-owned Sonatrach, said in 2006 it had acquired 5 exploration licenses in Mali's Taoudeni Basin.
Eni is the biggest foreign oil major in Africa and has identified the continent as one of its key drivers for growth. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Mark Potter)