Niger Suspends Oil Exports to China via Benin Pipeline Amid Diplomatic Standoff

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In a significant escalation of tensions between Niger and Benin, Nigerien Oil Minister Mahamane Moustapha Barke Bako announced on Thursday the suspension of oil exports to China through the pipeline to Benin’s coast. This move intensifies the ongoing standoff between the two West African neighbors.

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Minister Barke Bako personally oversaw the closure of a section of the 2,000-kilometer (1,243-mile) pipeline at the Agadem oilfield in eastern Niger. This pipeline, part of a $400 million agreement with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), was intended to facilitate crude oil exports to China under a memorandum of understanding.

The diplomatic rift between Niger and Benin escalated in May when Benin blocked Nigerien crude exports through its port and demanded that Niger reopen its border to Beninese goods, seeking to normalize relations. Niger, in turn, disputed Benin’s claims and accused Benin of detaining five Nigerien nationals at Benin’s Seme-Kpodji pipeline terminal under false charges.

“We cannot allow our oil to be taken by others while we are unable to oversee its loading,” Minister Barke Bako declared in a televised address, justifying Niger’s decision to halt oil flows.

The roots of the current tensions trace back to a coup in Niger in July 2023, which prompted the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to impose strict sanctions on Niger for over six months. Although ECOWAS lifted these sanctions with the expectation of normalized trade, Niger has continued to keep its borders closed to goods from Benin.

The unilateral action by Niger to suspend oil exports via the Benin pipeline marks a significant turn in the diplomatic standoff, raising concerns about the broader economic implications for both countries and potential regional stability in West Africa.

By Naija247news
By Naija247newshttps://www.naija247news.com/
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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