Niger aims to start oil exports from Benin pipeline in January, leader says

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DAKAR, Dec 11 (Reuters) – Niger expects to export its first barrels of crude oil through a new Niger-Benin pipeline in January, the country’s military leader Abdourahamane Tiani said on state television.

The PetroChina (601857.SS)-backed export pipeline project was officially launched on Nov. 1, linking Niger’s Agadem oilfield to the Benin port of Cotonou.

Storage tanks in Cotonou are currently being filled and should be done by January, when the commercialisation phase will start, Tiani said in an interview on Niger’s RTS channel on Sunday.

Niger will get a 25.4% of the 90,000 barrels of a day (bdp) that will be exported through the pipeline, he said.

The West African country currently has a small oil refinery with capacity of around 20,000 bpd which mostly supplies Niger’s domestic fuel market.

It aims to refine more oil locally, said Tiani, who seized power as the head of a military junta in a coup in July.

“Our desire is not to market crude oil. We want to move towards a refinery which will process Nigerien crude on Nigerien soil,” said Tiani, adding that Niger has not benefited enough from its natural resources.

Reporting by Bate Felix; additional reporting and writing by Nellie Peyton; editing by David Evans.

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