Niger awards second oil permit to CNPC, plans exports

Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:53am EST
 
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* Government says new permit covers 1 bln barrels

* Oil exports planned via Chad and Cameroon

NIAMEY Nov 16 (Reuters) - The government of Niger has awarded China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) a second operating permit in the Agadem block and plans to export the oil via Chad and Cameroon, state television reported.

Niger, a poor landlocked country with uranium deposits, began pumping oil in 2011 but output has so far mostly been used for a domestic refinery co-owned by CNPC and the government.

CNPC is already pumping oil in the Agadem block, located in the semi-arid eastern region of Diffa, bordering Chad.

"This second phase (of CNPC's development of the Agadem block) involves 59 oil wells with an expected 1 billion barrels of oil. The oil will be exported through the route from Niger to Chad to Cameroon," said Marou Amadou, spokesman for the government on Friday.

He added that the new development would allow the country to export between 60,000-80,000 barrels per day, without specifying how quickly exports could rise.

The government announcement suggests reserves in the Agadem block could be much bigger than previous estimates of 650 million barrels. CNPC is also looking for oil in the northern Bilma block in partnership with Canadian TVI Pacific's TG World.

Niger signed an agreement with Cameroon in September to export its oil via a new link to the existing Cameroon-Chad pipeline which transports oil to the Atlantic port of Kribi.

Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou is also planning a study for a pipeline via southern neighbour Benin, Amadou said.

Niamey has called for further contributions from investors to the country's infrastructure and its decision to award a further permit to CNPC follows an announcement that the Chinese firm would invest 100 billion CFA francs to construct roads in eastern Niger.