July 3, 2015 / 3:12 PM / 4 years ago

Exxon Mobil ends oil exploration in Madagascar after poor finds: minister

A Exxon Mobil gas station is seen in Encinitas, California October 28, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp has ended its oil exploration in Madagascar after disappointing findings in its off-shore blocks, the Malagasy Mining and Petroleum Minister said on Friday.

The U.S. company had no immediate comment.

Exxon’s affiliates resumed exploration in Madagascar in 2013 after a four-year pause due to a force majeure declared after the 2009 coup on the Indian Ocean island.

“Exxon has left Madagascar because it was not convinced by the potential of the oilfield,” Minister Joeli Valerien Lalaharisaina told Reuters.

“The potential is not yet defined, but the results of investigations have shown that the oilfield was not interesting for a company of Exxon Mobil’s scale.”

Randriafeno said medium-sized explorers may be interested in taking over the blocks.

Exxon has three production-sharing licenses in Madagascar, which has no proven offshore hydrocarbon reserves but shares a maritime boundary with Mozambique where huge deposits of natural gas have been found.

Madagascar has courted foreign investors in the hope direct investment can boost economic growth in a country where discontent over unemployment and frequent power cuts has stoked anger.

However, the World Bank and donors say the government has struggled impose vital reforms needed to get the economy on a more stable footing.

Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; writing by Drazen Jorgic, editing by David Evans

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