Nigeria may soon start importing fuel from the Republic of Niger as the latter plans to evacuate its excess petroleum products.
Niger Republic's minister of petroleum, Mr. Foumakoye Gado, is in the country to sign the African Petroleum Producers' Association (APPA) Statute, which will make Niger become a bonafide member of the association.
Gado told journalists during the signing ceremony yesterday in Abuja that Niger's present refining capacity is 20,000 barrels of oil per day, out of which the country can only consume 7,000 barrels, an equivalent of 1.113million litres of fuel, while the excess of 13,000 barrels, an equivalent of 2.067million liters of fuel would be exported to Nigeria.
The minister who spoke through an interpreter said, "We currently refine 20,000bpd and we consume only 7,000 barrels leaving an excess of 13,000 barrels. We hope to evacuate the excess to Nigeria. That is the major reason we are here.
He said the country in 2011 signed a contract for the commercialisation of crude production, adding that a feasibility study has been concluded to commence oil exportation which would boost its crude production from the current 20,000bpd to 60,000bpd.
He adding, however, that Niger presently does not have any specific target country for its crude export, but said it would be done according to international standard.
The minister who was accompanied to the event by Niger's ambassador to Nigeria, H.E Mansourmanan H.D, explained that his country resolved to join APPA, despite being a small oil producing nation, in order to tap into the experience of other member countries and ensure that her oil prospecting is a source of blessing to the country and not a resource curse, based on lessons learnt from other countries.
While noting that the association's objective will impact on the country's technical know-how and help build local capacity, Gado said his country will ensure that oil proceed is used to accelerate development. He said the country would begin the construction of its oil export pipeline which will be routed through Cameroon in 2013, after which exportation will commence in 2014 or 2015.
The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum, Engr. Goni I. Sheikh, who represented the minister of petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, while welcoming Niger to the association, noted that signing the APPA Statute was mandatory for all member countries who wish to benefit fully from oil and gas exploration through the association's support.
He said the objectives of the association include the promotion of cooperation among member countries in hydrocarbon exploration, promotion of technical assistance, coordination of marketing policies and strategies as well as studying ways of providing assistance to the oil importing African countries to meet their energy requirement.
While expressing optimism that the opportunity will further strengthen the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and Niger Republic, Sheikh added that the association operates a fund which is dedicated to financing studies and projects in the hydrocarbon and energy sector of APPA member countries.