Niger’s oil export hopes advance as Benin pipeline works start
Niger’s president this week launched construction work on a new oil pipeline running from the landlocked country into neighboring Benin, which is set to help Niger achieve its ambitions of becoming a crude exporter.
President Mahamadou Issoufou lay the first stone for the commencement of pipeline construction works Monday, along with officials from Niger’s petroleum ministry and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), as well as independent oil operator Savannah Petroleum. The 90,000 b/d route is expected to be in place by 2021.
The 1,829 km pipeline will transport crude oil from Koulele at Agadem in Niger to Port Seme in Benin.
CNPC and the Niger government also signed a transportation convention on the crude export pipeline, which will run from the Agadem Rift basin to Benin’s coast.
Niger’s nascent oil industry is targeting production of more than 100,000 b/d in the next two to three years, but hopes rest on matching the landlocked country’s output ambitions with its export plans via the construction of the Niger-Benin pipeline.
Niger’s crude production was around 20,000 b/d late last year but output is expected to rise by a further 5,000 b/d this year, before quadrupling by early next decade thanks to a spate of recent oil discoveries, according to oil ministry officials.
UK-based Savannah Petroleum, which has made a string of discoveries in Niger in the past few years, has emerged as a significant player in the African country.
Andrew Knott, CEO of Savannah Petroleum, said this line can “transform” Niger into a major regional oil producer.
“It provides our company with a significant additional potential route to market, alongside the existing Zinder refinery, for our existing and future discoveries in Niger,” Knott said.
Savannah’s Niger assets consist of two PSC areas, which together cover an area of 13,655 square km, almost half of the Agadem Rift basin.
All of Niger’s current crude production is processed at the CNPC-owned 20,000 b/d Soraz refinery.
The bulk of the oil produced by the former French colony is light, waxy crude.
The Agadem basin has been in production since 2011, following a first phase of development of the Agadem PSC area by a CNPC-led joint venture.