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Benin Temporarily Allows Niger Crude Exports

IN a recent development amid escalating tensions, Benin has temporarily lifted its ban on crude oil exports from neighbouring Niger via its port, signalling a potential easing of strained relations between the two West African nations.

Benin’s mines minister, Samou Seidou Adambi, announced on Wednesday that the country has agreed to authorise the loading of the first vessel for crude oil exports. However, he emphasized that this authorisation is provisional pending further discussions and resolutions.


‘We have decided to authorise the loading of the first vessel in our waters… However, it is important to note that this authorisation is provisional,’ Minister Adambi informed reporters after a meeting with Chinese partners involved in the pipeline project.

Benin reaffirmed its commitment to honouring all agreements within the pipeline project and expressed intentions to convene a meeting to address urgent issues related to the proper conduct of export operations via the pipeline.

Tensions between Benin and Niger heightened following a July 2023 coup in Niger, prompting the West African regional bloc ECOWAS to impose strict sanctions. Although sanctions were lifted to encourage normalisation, Niger continued to keep its borders closed to goods from Benin without formal communication.

President Patrice Talon of Benin highlighted the lack of clarity from Niger regarding the border closure, expressing concerns over the ongoing trade disruptions.

Niger’s Prime Minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, criticised Benin’s blockade of oil exports, citing violations of trade agreements between the two countries and with Niger’s Chinese partners. He also cited security reasons for Niger’s inability to fully reopen its border with Benin.

The PetroChina-backed pipeline, spanning nearly 2,000 km (1,243 miles), was launched in November to link Niger’s Agadem oilfield to the Benin port of Cotonou. The project holds strategic importance for both nations and their partners, aiming to facilitate oil exports and regional economic integration.

The temporary lifting of the export ban represents a potential breakthrough in resolving trade disputes between Benin and Niger, paving the way for diplomatic negotiations to address underlying issues and ensure the smooth operation of critical infrastructure projects in the region.

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