Published on 28 Apr 2024

Oil begins to flow through China-backed Niger-Benin pipeline

The 110,000 b/d capacity pipeline will reshape Niger’s oil sector

Photo credit: Africanews

The first oil from the Niger-Benin pipeline has successfully reached the port town of Sémè Kraké in Benin. Spanning 1,950km, this crude pipeline, which connects Niger’s Agadem oil fields to the Atlantic Ocean, is the longest of its kind on the continent and is operated by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). With a capacity of 110,000 barrels per day (b/d), it is poised to transform Niger’s oil sector.

Landlocked Niger currently produces approximately 20,000 barrels of crude oil per day (b/d), mostly from CNPC projects in the Agadem Rift Basin in the country's southeast. Previously, Niger’s oil was primarily consumed domestically due to the absence of an export route. However, this situation is set to change with the completion of the Chinese-built pipeline, 

Work on the pipeline began in 2019 but faced delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic as well as a coup in Niger in 2023 that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, resulting in military control. Benin, a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc, participated in the imposition of sanctions on Niger, blocking crucial equipment for the pipeline from crossing the border between the two nations. For instance, several pump stations in Niger awaited equipment that was stuck in Benin. However, in February, seven months following the coup, ECOWAS eased sanctions on the junta-led Niger, allowing CNPC to finish construction of the pipeline.

In April, Niger signed a memorandum of understanding with CNPC valued at US$400m, related to the sale of crude oil from its Agadem oilfield, according to state-owned broadcaster RTN, which did not provide further details.

Niger is estimated to have reserves of a billion barrels of crude, according to the African Petroleum Producers' Organisation. Key players in the industry include CNPC, UK-based Savannah Energy, and Algeria's Sonatrach. CNPC is active in the Agadem region and also supplies oil to the Soraz refinery in Zinder, in which it holds a 60% stake. Savannah Energy has made several oil discoveries and is progressing towards their development. The company hopes to initiate a 1,500 b/d oil project soon, with plans to increase production to 5,000 b/d. Thanks largely to the successful operation of the project and the anticipated large-scale oil production and exports Niger is expected to be Africa’s fastest-growing economy in 2024, with a GDP growth forecast of 12.8%.



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