Niger seeks to step up oil production with pipeline to coast

NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — Niger has started construction on an oil pipeline that will link it to the coast through West African neighbour Benin, a project that Niger’s President said will bolster the country’s economic development.

President Issoufou Mahamadou called the 1,982 kilometre-long pipeline one of Niger’s most important projects since independence and an important step in the Sahel nation’s oil production.

China National Petroleum Corp, which has operated in Niger since 2011, was tasked with building the pipeline along with the West African Oil Pipeline Company.

This “phase of oil field operations is a historic moment for Niger”, Mahamadou said during a building launch ceremony on Tuesday. It “will allow Niger to restructure its economy,” he added.

The first phase of construction requires an investment of USD4 billion between 2019 and 2021. The total through completion is expected to be USD7 billion, the presidency said.

Oil accounts for four per cent of GDP in Niger. By 2022, it’s expected to represent 24 per cent, according to the government.

Construction started at a site in Koulélé, located about 90 kilometres from Agadem in the Diffa region. During the launch ceremony, Mahamadou said the project would produce other economic benefits in the oil sector, such as jobs for youth and further development of oil fields.