Niamey (Agencies): Niger is set to enter the global crude oil market next month, marking a significant milestone for the landlocked African nation, as reported by Reuters. The country’s military government revealed plans to transport crude oil via the Niger-Benin crude pipeline to a port in neighboring Benin, facilitating international sales. The 1,980km pipeline, managed by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), has been operational since its launch in November.

According to Abdourahamane Tchiani, the military leader, storage tanks at the port of Cotonou are expected to be filled by January, marking the commencement of the commercialization phase. Niger aims to export 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) through the pipeline, with the country receiving 25.4% of the revenue. Currently producing 110,000 bpd, Niger has largely focused on serving the domestic fuel market through its existing 20,000 bpd capacity oil refinery.

The move towards international crude oil exports aligns with Niger’s broader strategy to refine more oil domestically and reduce reliance on imported fuel. Tchiani announced plans to construct a second refinery, emphasizing the intention to process Nigerien crude within the country. The military leader highlighted the goal of maximizing the benefits of Niger’s natural resources, acknowledging that the country has not fully capitalized on its oil sector.

Niger’s oil industry has seen involvement from energy companies in China, Taiwan, and Algeria, with London-listed Savannah Energy being the sole Western oil company operating in the region. The country’s shift towards crude oil exports comes amid its transition under military rule since the ousting of President Mohamed Bazoum in July. The political change prompted sanctions from the EU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Niger’s military government has also taken steps to distance itself from France, its former colonial leader, accusing the European nation of interference in internal affairs.

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