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Niger's growing oil output ambitions rely on Benin pipeline

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Niger's growing oil output ambitions rely on Benin pipeline

Cape Town — Niger's nascent oil industry is targeting production of more than 100,000 b/d in the next two to three years, but hopes rest on matching the landlocked country's output ambitions with its export plans via the construction of a Niger-Benin pipeline.

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Niger's crude production is around 20,000 b/d, but output is expected to rise by around 5,000 b/d in January before quadrupling by early next decade thanks to a spate of recent oil discoveries, Abara Mahamadou, a director at the Niger petroleum ministry, said Wednesday.

"In 2021-22, when the pipeline is complete, production would be up by an additional 90,000 b/d," Mahamadou told S&P Global Platts on the sidelines of Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town.

Niger has been labelled an exploration hotspot by many industry observers and Mahamadou also talked up his resource-laden country's production prospects but was more circumspect about getting this crude to market as there are no export routes.

"The reserves are there. The wells are there. The only problem is we have not had access to the sea. Production is limited to the capacity of the refiner," he noted, given that Niger plans to export its oil via a pipeline that will link its oil fields to the port of Cotonou in Benin.

DISCOVERY OPTIMISM

UK-based Savannah Petroleum recently said it hopes to start producing first oil from its Niger finds early next year.

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With four oil discoveries this year to date and a fifth well currently drilling, it is targeting 52 million barrels of recoverable oil to begin flowing from the first quarter of 2019.

All of Niger's current crude production is processed at the CNPC-owned 20,000 b/d Soraz refinery.

The bulk of the oil produced by the former French colony is light, waxy crude. Savannah's Niger assets consist of two PSC areas which together cover an area of 13,655 square km, almost half of the Agadem Rift Basin.

The Agadem basin has been in production since 2011 following a first phase of development of the Agadem PSC area by a CNPC-led joint venture.

Niger's oil export options

--Eklavya Gupte, eklavya.gupte@spglobal.com

--Paul Hickin, paul.hickin@spglobal.com