Nigeria and the Republic of Niger on Tuesday in Abuja signed Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) on the construction of two billion dollars Hydrocarbon Pipeline and Refinery in Nigeria.
The signing of the MoU was witnessed by President Muhammadu Buhari and his Nigerien counterpart Mahammadou Issoufou at the new Banquet Hall, Aso Rock, Abuja.
The MoU was signed by Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu and the Nigerien Minister of Energy, Foumakaye Gado.
Speaking at the event, President Buhari described the cooperation on crude oil export from the Republic of Niger to Nigeria and construction of refinery facilities in Katsina State as a “ win – win ” for both nations.
He noted that the initiative would not only provide a reliable market for the stranded crude from the Niger Republic but would also provide petroleum products for Nigeria.
“Nigeria sees this cooperation on crude oil export from the Republic of Niger and construction of refinery facilities in Katsina State as a “win – win” for both nations.
“The initiative will not only provide a reliable market for the stranded crude from the Niger Republic but will also provide petroleum products for Nigeria, as it aggressively pursues its aspiration on petroleum product self-sufficiency.
“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 additional hydrocarbon 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.”
According to him, the project will be private sector driven with the full support of the governments of both countries.
President Buhari expressed delight that already several expressions of interest from prospective investors were being received.
President Buhari who inaugurated Steering and Technical Committee on the construction of the Hydrocarbon Pipeline and Refinery projects, said the committee would provide strategic leadership, direction and governance oversight for the project.
“In this regard, a Steering Committee has been set up to be chaired by the Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and the alternate chairman is the Nigerien Minister of Petroleum, to provide strategic leadership, direction and governance oversight for the project.
“Further to this, a Senior level Joint Technical Team is carefully selected based on competence to develop the implementation roadmap and strategy on both the refinery and pipeline projects.
“This team will be led by Nigeria’s Engineer Rabiu Suleiman supported by the DG Hydrocarbons of Niger Republic.’’
The President, therefore, challenged members of the committee to come up with a detailed roadmap and guideline leading to actual execution of the projects by December.
He stated that the detailed roadmap should cover the following: Bankable feasibility studies for both the Refinery and pipeline projects; Optimal project site, pipeline routes and details as well as security plan.
The President also enjoined the committee to come up with selected consortia of investors for both the refinery and pipeline projects.
President Buhari assured that Nigeria was committed to pursuing the partnership with vigour and determination, adding that Nigeria and Niger had “excellent relations for several decades, as neighbours sharing a long border with common cultural and historical ties.’’
In his remarks, President Mahammadou Issoufou of Republic of Niger, who spoke in French, noted the signing of the MoU had constituted the basis for the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.
“We share common problems and should also share solutions.
“Africa will only to develop if we work together and know what to do.
“We only need to move into taking meaningful actions we are trying to develop the value chain for our mineral resources and product.
“We will be happy to see barrels of crude oil refined in Niger and exported to Nigeria,’’ he said.
One of the co-investors of the project and founder of Blak Oil Energy Refinery, Alhaji Ibrahim Zakari, disclosed that the refinery project would be sited at Mashi in Katsina state was worth two billion dollars.
Zakari revealed that the project was projected to provide 2,500 direct and another 10,000 indirect employment opportunities to Nigerians.