Buhari hails move to import crude from Niger Republic

President Buhari

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has praised the move by Nigeria to export crude oil from Niger Republic as well as the setting up of a refinery in Katsina state that will make use of “stranded crude” from the northern Nigerian neighbour.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to that effect was signed between the two countries on Tuesday at the presidential villa with President Buhari presiding.

Speaking during the ceremony at the presidential villa, Abuja on Tuesday, he thanked the Niger delegation for considering Nigeria as a partner on what he observed as a mutually beneficial strategic initiative.

Buhari noted that Nigeria and Niger have had excellent relations for several decades, as neighbours sharing a long border with common cultural and historical ties.

According to him, 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.

He added: “The initiative will not only provide a reliable market for the stranded crude from the Niger Republic but will also provide petroleum products for Nigeria, as it aggressively pursues its aspiration on petroleum product self-sufficiency.

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In addition, it is my hope that the current frontier exploration efforts in the Northern part of the country (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 axis.

“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.”

The president announced the setting up of a steering committee to be chaired by the Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. Dr. Ibe Kachiku, while the alternate chairman is the Nigerien Minister of Petroleum, to provide strategic leadership, direction and governance oversight for the project.

Further to this, he said, a Senior level Joint Technical Team has been selected based on competence to develop the implementation roadmap and strategy on both the refinery and pipeline projects. According to him, this team will be led by Nigeria’s Engineer Rabiu Suleiman supported by the DG Hydrocarbon of Niger Republic.

Buhari said he expected that by December 2018, this group will come up with a detailed roadmap and guideline leading to actual execution of the projects.

He directed that the detailed roadmap should cover the following: Bankable feasibility studies for both the Refinery and pipeline projects; Optimal project site, pipeline routes and details; Security plan and selected consortia of investors for both the refinery and pipeline projects.

He assured of Nigeria’s commitment to pursuing “this partnership with vigour and determination.”

In his address at the occasion, Kachiku said Buhari has personally driven the initiative, which he said was propelled by the sole desire to create a more favourable investment opportunity in Nigeria’s downstream sector and encourage cross-border economic development.

The occasion was witnessed by the President of Niger Republic, Issoufou Mahammadou.

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