By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Republic of Niger for the importation of 15,000 barrels per day of refined petroleum products from the landlocked West Africa country’s 20,000 barrels per day refinery.
The deal was reached following a bilateral agreement between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, according to a statement from the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Garba Deen Muhammad
Mr Muhammad stated that the pact was signed by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, and the Director-General of the Nigerien Petroleum Products Company (Societe Nigerienne De Petrole/SONIDEP), Mr Alio Toune.
He noted that agreement was sealed under the supervision of the two countries’ Ministers of State for Petroleum, Mr Timipre Sylva and Mr Foumakoye Gado, respectively, with the Secretary-General of the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO), Mr Omar Farouk Ibrahim, in attendance.
He said talks had been ongoing between the two countries for over four months – through the NNPC and Niger Republic’s National Oil Company – on petroleum products transportation and storage.
He explained that Niger Republic’s Soraz Refinery in Zinder, some 260 kilometres from the Nigerian border, has an installed refining capacity of 20,000 barrels per day.
According to him, the country’s total domestic requirement is about 5,000 barrels per day thus leaving a huge surplus of about 15,000 barrels per day mostly for export.
Speaking shortly after the MoU signing, Mr Sylva expressed delight over the development, describing it as another huge step in developing trade relations between both countries.
“This is a major step forward. Niger Republic has some excess products which need to be evacuated.
“Nigeria has the market for these products. Therefore, this is going to be a win-win relationship for both countries.
“My hope is that this is going to be the beginning of deepening trade relations between the Niger Republic and Nigeria,” he said.
Also commenting on the development, APPO Secretary-General, Mr Ibrahim, said he could not be happier with what he witnessed in terms of co-operation and collaboration between the two APPO member countries in the area of hydrocarbons.
“I want to commend the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Niger and their leadership for this milestone,” he said
Also, Mr Kyari said the two countries have had long engagements in the last four to five months with a view to restoring the importation of petroleum products (excess production) from Niger into Nigeria.
“With this development, we hope to have a long-lasting and sustainable commercial framework to have a pipeline from the Soraz Refinery in Zinder (Niger) into the most proximate Nigerian city so that we can develop a depot.
“We are happy that we have reached that conclusion and our two ministers have endorsed this framework. We are also working on detailed MoU between our two companies so that we can continue the execution process immediately,” he said.
The NNPC chief further noted that being the most experienced of the two oil companies, the NNPC would support SONIDEP in terms of training and capacity building.
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