The governments of Niger and Nigeria have agreed in principle to cooperate on building an oil pipeline and refinery.
The refinery would be in Katsina State, northern Nigeria, and would receive crude oil through the pipeline from Niger’s oilfields in the Ténéré desert (pictured).
The memorandum of understanding for the two projects, which are expected to cost about $2bn, was signed by the two countries’ energy ministers and witnessed by President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and his counterpart from the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou. The ceremony took place earlier this week at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
President Buhari said after the ceremony: "Nigeria sees this cooperation on crude oil export from the Republic of Niger and construction of refinery facilities in Katsina State as a ‘win-win’ for both nations."
The refinery will be able to process between 100,000 and 150,000 barrels a day, which will make it the third largest in Nigeria, after the giant, $10bn, 650,000-barrel Dangote refinery, under construction near Lagos, and the 210,000-barrel Port Harcourt refinery. Niger has one 20,000-barrel facility.
Although the governments are planning to set up a a steering committee to oversee the scheme, the finance and development will be handled by the private sector.
Alhaji Ibrahim Zakari, a businessman based in Katsina State, is developing the project. He told the local media that his Blackoil Energy company would take the lead in building the refinery, and that he would mobilise investment from the US, Canada, India and the Middle East.
He said he expected the project would take five years to complete, and would employ more than 2,500 people.
Image: Niger’s oil is located in the Ténéré desert (Jacques Taberlet/Creative Commons)