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Niger-Benin pipeline: First drops of oil arrive at Sémè Kraké

Burmese employees of Total, a French oil company, lay a controversial gas pipeline from the Andaman Sea to Thailand, Monday, Nov. 11, 1996 in Kanbauk, southeastern Burma.   -  
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Amid frosty diplomatic relations, Benin is expected to receive transit duties and tax revenues per quantity of Nigerien oil that gushes out at Sémè Kraké. The projection comes as the platform where the 1980km pipeline that connects the Agadem oil fields lands.

Last Sunday, Nigerien oil reportedly gushed out at Sémè Kraké in Benin raising hopes for at least 2,000 jobs across the west African nation.

The project whose construction began in September 2019 has faced several delays. It was expected to last two years and cost over $5 billion. 

According to a 2019 national petroleum plan, the pipeline, linking Koulele in Niger to the port of Seme in Benin will produce about 90,000 barrels per day (bpd), something that will transform Niger into a significant regional oil producer.

However that optimism was dampened and remains in doubt after a military coup sacked the democratically elected president Mohammed Bazoum in July last year. 

Benin, a member of the regional bloc ECOWAS effected the closure of its borders to Niger in enforcement of sanctions against the junta that overthrew Bazoum. But President Patrice Talon has since taken a softer stance on the coupists in Niamey.

The Beninese president in December, under ECOWAS provisions, announced the lifting of the suspension of imports of goods transiting to Niger via the autonomous port of Cotonou. 

It followed his expressed "desire to see relations between Benin and the countries where the coups d'état took place rapidly re-established" according to media reports.

Niger's junta - officially known as the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) - headed by General Abdourahamane Tchiani has yet to be seen favoring rapprochement with the authorities in Benin. 

Instead, he has deepened ties with Burkina Faso and Mali, countries with whom he plans to form a joint confederation.  

Niger currently pumps around 20,000 bpd of oil, most of it from China National Petroleum Corp. projects in the Agadem Rift Basin in the country's southeast. 

With the giant oil pipeline via the Sémè Kraké border, the country's oil production will increase to 110,000 bpd, a lot closer to its official target to increase to 200,000 barrels per day by 2026.

The landlocked west African nation is believed to be sitting on a billion barrels of crude reserves, according to the African Petroleum Producers' Organization. 

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