Niger’s PM Condemns Benin’s Blockade of Oil Exports, Citing Trade Agreements and Chinese Partnerships

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Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine of Niger denounced Benin’s blockade of Niger’s oil exports, stating that it violates trade agreements between the two countries and with Niger’s Chinese partners. Zeine emphasized Niger’s inability to fully reopen its border with Benin due to security concerns, escalating a dispute that saw Benin block supplies of Niger’s crude oil to ships in its port.

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The blockade jeopardizes Niger’s plans to commence crude exports under a $400 million deal with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), crucial for funding bond payments missed during regional sanctions. Zeine cited multiple accords signed by Benin, Niger, and Chinese entities relating to the PetroChina-backed pipeline from Niger’s Agadem oil field to the Benin port of Cotonou, asserting Benin’s violation of these agreements.

However, Benin insists on resolution only through the reopening of Niger’s border and normalization of relations. Zeine highlighted clauses in oil export accords prohibiting Benin from unilaterally modifying agreements without consent from all parties, branding the blockade a violation of these agreements.

The strained relations stem from ECOWAS sanctions following a July 2023 coup in Niger. Zeine affirmed Niger’s stance against fully reopening the border, citing security concerns regarding terrorist bases in Benin’s territory. Niger continues to battle insurgencies linked to Islamic State and Al Qaeda, emphasizing the need for border security before reopening.

The outcome remains uncertain as Niger stands firm on its border closure stance, awaiting assurances of territorial security before considering reopening.


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