By Michael Eboh
abuja—Nigeria and Niger Republic, yesterday, set up two committees to determine the feasibility of the planned 150,000 barrels per day refineries and pipeline projects to be jointly developed by both countries and also mobilise resources for the project.
Speaking in Abuja, at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding for crude oil export from Niger Republic and construction of a refinery in Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that both committees were expected to, at least by December 2018, come up with a detailed road map and guideline leading to actual execution of the projects.
Buhari said the steering committee would provide strategic leadership, direction and governance oversight for the project and would be chaired by Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, while the alternate chairman would be Nigerien Minister of Petroleum, Foumakoye Gado.
President Buhari also declared that a senior level Joint Technical Team had been carefully selected, based on competence, to develop the implementation of a road map and strategy on both the refinery and pipeline projects, adding that this team would be led by Nigeria’s Engineer Rabiu Suleiman, supported by the Director General, Hydrocarbon of Niger Republic.
The detailed road map to be submitted by both teams, he said, should cover 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.
Buhari assured that Nigeria was committed to pursuing this partnership with vigour and determination.
He added that the initiative would not only provide a reliable market for the stranded crude from the Niger Republic but also provide petroleum products for Nigeria, as it aggressively pursues its aspiration on petroleum product self-sufficiency.
He said: “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 extra oxyydrocarbon 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.”
Also speaking, Nigerien President, Mahamadou Issoufou, said the project would strengthen existing economic and political ties between both countries.