Nigeria and the Republic of Niger, Tuesday signed an agreement for the construction of a petroleum pipeline and refinery.
The Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, for the project was signed by Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and Niger Republic’s Minister of Energy, Foumakaye Gado, at a ceremony in Abuja.
The pipeline is expected to run from Niger to Katsina State, where the new refinery would be sited.
Ahead of the signing ceremony, President Mahammadou Issoufou of Republic of Niger arrived in Abuja on Monday, and witnessed the signing of the MoU with President Muhammadu Buhari.
President Buhari, at the ceremony, said Nigeria and Niger Republic have “excellent relations for several decades as neighbours”, and share common cultural and historical ties.
He said: “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”.
President Buhari also said the new project will not only provide a reliable market for the stranded crude from the Niger Republic but will also provide petroleum products for Nigeria, as the country “aggressively pursues its aspiration on petroleum product self-sufficiency”.
He was of the hope that the current exploration efforts in the Northern part of Nigeria, including (Chad Basin, Gongola Basin, Sokoto Basin, Bida Basin and Benue trough) will also result in the provision of additional hydrocarbon inflow to the corridors of the proposed pipeline and a potential refinery around Kaduna State.
“I am happy that several productive engagements held between the Nigerian and Nigerien authorities have resulted in the positive agreements to progress with activities on this important project. This project will be private sector driven with the full support of the governments of both countries and I am happy to understand that several expressions of interest from prospective investors are already being received,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Dr. Kachikwu said Buhari has personally driven the initiative to have the pipeline and the refinery.
He said Buhari was propelled by ”the sole desire to create a more favourable investment opportunity in Nigeria’s downstream sector.”
He said as part of the strategy to reposition the Nigerian oil and gas industry, a roadmap of short and medium term priorities tagged “7big wins” was developed.
Shortly after the signing of the MoU, Buhari inaugurated a Steering Committee for the projects which is to be co-chaired by the Nigerian and Nigerien ministers.
President Buhari also inaugurated a separate team to develop the implementation roadmap and strategy for both the refinery and pipeline projects.