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Despite its status as Africa’s largest oil producer, Nigeria strangely signs a deal that will allow it import refined petrol from Niger Republic

Nigeria and Niger Republic have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for petroleum products transportation and storage between both countries. This development follows high level engagements between the leaders of both countries as they seek to build regional economic alliances.

Talks have been on-going between the two countries for over four months through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and Niger Republic’s National Oil Company, Societe Nigerienne De Petrole (SONIDEP), on petroleum products transportation and storage.

Niger Republic’s Soraz Refinery in Zinder located about 260 kilometres from the Nigerian border, has an installed refining capacity of 20,000 barrels per day. Niger Republic’s total domestic requirement is about 5,000bpd, thus leaving a huge surplus of about 15,000 bpd, mostly for export.

Speaking shortly after the MoU signing, the Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva described the move as a huge step in developing trade relations between both countries.

Also commenting on the development, the Secretary General of African Petroleum Producers Organisation, APPO, Omar Farouk Ibrahim said he could not be happier with what he witnessed in terms of co-operation and collaboration between the two APPO member-countries in the area of hydrocarbons.

In his remarks, the GMD NNPC, Mele Kyari, said the two countries have had long engagements in the last four to five months with a view to restoring the importation of petroleum products with the excess production from Niger into Nigeria.

Many analysts would however question the present development.

There would be questions as to why Nigeria’s refining capacity remains underdeveloped and why the country would have to incur logistics costs moving crude oil from Niger Delta to faraway Niger Republic where it would be refined and likely shipped back to Nigeria at a humongous cost to the consumers.