President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday hailed the move by Nigeria to import crude oil from Niger Republic. He also welcomed the setting up of a refinery in Katsina State that will make use of “stranded crude” from Niger Republic, The Nation reports.
The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. At the ceremony, Buhari thanked the Niger delegation for considering Nigeria as a partner on what he observed as a mutually beneficial strategic initiative. According to him, the two countries have had excellent relations for several decades as neighbours sharing a long border with common cultural and historical ties.
Nigeria, he said, sees the cooperation on crude oil export from the Niger and construction of refinery facilities in Katsina State as a “win – win” for both nations. He said: “The initiative will not only provide a reliable market for the stranded crude from Niger Republic but will also provide petroleum products for Nigeria, as it aggressively pursues its aspiration on petroleum product self-sufficiency.
“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 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 also 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.
He also 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, adding that the team will be led by Nigeria’s Engr Rabiu Suleiman supported by the DG Hydrocarbon of Niger Republic. Buhari said he expected that by December this year, the group will come up with a detailed roadmap and guideline leading to actual execution of the projects.