NIAMEY (Agencies): Niger is gearing up to commence its first-ever crude oil exports in January, according to statements from the country’s military leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani. The commercial phase of exports is set to initiate from the Benin port of Cotonou.

General Tiani, who assumed the role of head of state in July following the ousting of President Mohammed Bazoum by military forces, revealed on state television that the export operations are anticipated to begin in January. The military leader emphasized that the commencement of filling storage tanks in Cotonou is currently underway, with the process expected to be completed by January.

The export initiative is facilitated by a new pipeline project inaugurated in November, connecting Niger’s Agadem oilfield to the port of Cotonou in Benin. While Niger has traditionally been recognized as a significant supplier of uranium to France and other European nations, the recent shift towards crude oil exports marks a new economic endeavor for the West African nation.

General Tiani outlined Niger’s intention to prioritize domestic refining for local consumption rather than marketing crude oil externally. He expressed the desire to establish a refinery on Nigerien soil to process the country’s crude oil, signaling a strategic move toward self-sufficiency in the energy sector.

Currently, Niger operates a small refinery with a capacity of 20,000 barrels per day (bpd), primarily catering to the domestic market. The impending launch of crude oil exports represents a notable development for Niger’s economic landscape, diversifying its energy exports beyond uranium and potentially contributing to the country’s economic growth.

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