*To evacuate excess petrol from Niger to Nigeria
By Michael Eboh
The Federal Government, yesterday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Republic of Niger for the transportation and storage of petroleum products.
In a statement in Abuja, Group General Manager/Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Garba Deen Muhammad, said the MoU was reached following bilateral agreements between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger.
According to Muhammad, talks had been on-going between the two countries for over four months – through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Niger Republic’s National Oil Company, Societe Nigerienne De Petrole (SONIDEP), on petroleum products transportation and storage.
He explained that Niger Republics Soraz Refinery in Zinder, some 260 kilometres from the Nigerian border, has an installed refining capacity of 20,000 barrels per day, the country’s total domestic requirement is about 5,000 barrels per day, BPD, thus leaving a huge surplus of about 15,000 bpd, mostly for export.
Muhammad stated that the MoU was signed by the GMD NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari and the Director-General of SONIDEP, Mr. Alio Toune under the supervision of the two countries’ Ministers of State for Petroleum, Çhief Timipre Sylva and Mr Foumakoye Gado, respectively with the Secretary-General of the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO), Dr Omar Farouk Ibrahim in attendance.
Speaking shortly after the MoU signing, Sylva expressed delight over the development, describing it as another huge step in developing trade relations between both countries.
He said: “This is a major step forward. The Niger Republic has some excess products which need to be evacuated. Nigeria has the market for these products. Therefore, this is going to be a win-win relationship for both countries. My hope is that this is going to be the beginning of deepening trade relations between Niger Republic and Nigeria.”
Also commenting on the development, Secretary-General of African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO), Dr 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.
He said: “I want to commend the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Niger and their leadership for this milestone.”
In his remarks, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mallam 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 (excess production) from Niger into Nigeria.
He said: “With this development, we hope to have a long-lasting and sustainable commercial framework to have a pipeline from the Soraz Refinery in Zinder (Niger) into the most proximate Nigerian city so that we can develop a depot.
“We are happy that we have reached that conclusion and our two ministers have endorsed this framework. We are also working on detailed MoU between our two companies so that we can continue the execution process immediately.”
The NNPC helmsman further noted that being the most experienced of the two oil companies, the NNPC would support SONIDEP in terms of training and capacity building.