The Prime Minister, Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine, presided over the start-up ceremony for upstream and downstream production at phase II of the Agadem oilfield. This phase should enable Niger to increase its initial 2011 production by a factor of 5, the majority of which will be exported.
An investment of more than 3,000 billion FCFA, coupled with the commitment of a team of Sino-Nigerian workers and skills, has led to this performance that Niger has just achieved. Niger is now a member of the club of oil-producing and exporting countries.
In order to implement phase 2 of the Agadem oil block (1,700 kilometers from Niamey), several projects were carried out, including the drilling of several hundred development wells and the construction of numerous surface facilities.
For the Chinese ambassador to Niger, who operates the Agadem oil block via CNPC NP, Agadem phase 2 marks a new milestone in Niger's oil adventure.
"This represents not only a quantum leap in Niger's oil production, but also a big change for Niger in the global economic chain, as it will now become an exporting country. This is a great success for Niger," said Jiang Feng, Chinese ambassador to Niger.
A sure sign of Niger's place among oil-producing countries was the presence at the ceremony of no fewer than eleven diplomatic representatives and the ministers responsible for energy issues from Mali and Burkina Faso.
Niger's Minister of Petroleum explained that crude oil will be an instrument for the country to assert its sovereignty and share prosperity among all the sons and daughters of Niger.
"Aware of the place our country will henceforth occupy in the oil sector and the role oil will play in Niger's social and economic development, the Head of State intends to take all the necessary steps to ensure that Nigeriens as a whole can enjoy the benefits generated by oil production," explained Mahaman Moustapha Barke Bako, Niger's Minister of Petroleum, Mines and Energy.
Transitional Prime Minister Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine carried a clear message from CNSP Chairman and Head of State, Brigadier General Abdourhamane Tiani, to the effect that nothing would ever be the same again, and that the opacity surrounding the governance of Niger's crude oil was over.
"The production of phase 2 is intended exclusively for the development of our country, on the basis of equitable sharing by all the people of Niger, who will benefit from these resources to ensure our sovereignty, and to free us from some of the challenges we face.
I can assure you that everything will be done to ensure that, with the utmost transparency, these resources are used in the best possible way," pledged the Prime Minister, who is also Minister of Finance and the Economy.
Ali Idrissa, coordinator of the Network for Transparency and Budget Analysis (Réseau pour la transparence et l'analyse budgétaire), committed to good governance of the extractive industry in Niger, is enthusiastic about this vision.
"We congratulate the government and the Conseil national pour la sauvegarde de la patrie (National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland), and encourage them to ensure that Nigeriens can say that there is oil in their country, and that they can benefit from it. Our hope is that this wealth will contribute to our country's development.
For phase 2 of the Agadem Koulélé project, Niger's crude oil will be transported via a 2,000-kilometer pipeline to Benin, where it will be refined for export. The oil is expected to boost the country's economy, bringing in new foreign currency earnings.
A new hope for the population to see the fruit of this gift of nature reflected in their plates and their quality of life, for the integrated and integral development of Niger.
It should be remembered that it was in 2008 that research undertaken as part of a production sharing contract led to the discovery of several deposits on the Agadem block, and that the first crude oil came out of Niger's subsoil in November 2011 with the construction of the Zinder refinery.
Officially, Niger's reserves are around 2 billion barrels, and according to official projections, the country will be producing 200,000 barrels a day by 2026.