March 1, 2012 / 11:02 AM / 5 years ago

Niger to ship crude through Chad-Cameroon pipeline

NIAMEY, March 1 (Reuters) - Niger has reached an agreement with Chad to ship crude oil from its Agadem field for export through the Chad-Cameroon pipeline, Niger's foreign minister said on late on Wednesday.

Mohamed Bazoum told Niger's national television that the agreement was reached after he and oil minister Foumakoye Gado met with Chadian president Idriss Deby on Sunday.

"We asked the Chadian president's permission to consider the project to export oil through a pipeline that would connect us to the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline to the port of Kribi (in Cameroon). President Idriss Deby has just given a positive response," Bazoum said.

The minister did not say when the project will begin, but added that both governments plan to set up a team to negotiate technical and environmental details of the project as soon as possible.

Niger became one of Africa's newest oil producers in November with the inauguration of its Soraz refinery, a $5 billion joint venture with China National Petroleum Corporation near Zinder, some 900 km (560 miles) east of the capital Niamey.

The 20,000 barrel-per-day capacity, 60 percent-owned by CNPC and 40 percent by Niger, is fed entirely by oil from the newly-launched Agadem oilfield a further 700 km east.

About 7,000 bpd is intended for local use, while the rest will be exported through the pipeline.

Niger, one of the world's poorest nations struggling with perennial food shortages, initially put its oil reserves from Agadem at 268 million barrels, but the estimate has risen to 480 million barrels following new tests. (Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalatchi; Writing by Bate Felix)

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