If the proposed bilateral agreement between Nigeria and Niger Republic to build a hydrocarbon pipeline and a petroleum refinery is followed to the letter, and all loose nuts tightened, so many derivatives would be achieved with our roads saved from worsening decay and deterioration. Lives would be saved as accidents from heavy-duty trucks would be minimised if not eliminated.
Also, jobs would be created as activities of itinerary truckdrivers would be curtailed. Studies show high prevalence of HIV/AIDs amongst truck drivers as they engage in unsafe sexual practices along the corridor of their trips. For every junction of their trip, it is believed that they have a partner. A trip from Warri, Delta State to Kano State, would have exposed the drivers to the corridors of sexual risk exposure. While the nation records this avoidable HIV infection rates, casualties from accidents, armed robbery attacks add to the health burden of the nation. A measured travelling distance would solve these burdensome indices with the sincere implementation of the proposed refinery in the border towns of Nigeria and the Republic of Niger. To achieve these, the two West African nations with some shared culture and geography, would have allowed for the construction of a hydrocarbon refinery that would ferry crude oil, 500 kilometres from the oil-rich deposits in Niger through a modernly designed pipeline, to a Nigerian border town yet to be decided. The proposed refinery would process up to 100,000 and 150,000 barrels per day of crude from Niger Republic.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil-producing nation, with no adequate refining capacity, imports at least 70 per cent of its fuel needs. A renewed government commitment to bridging this gap by building a refinery in the north of the country, is a luring catch for investors given the large market for petroleum products in the north. Coming with full support, the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, opined that, “The initiative will not only provide a reliable market for the stranded crude from Niger Republic, but will also provide petroleum products for Nigeria, as it aggressively pursues its aspiration for petroleum products self-sufficiency.”With President Muhammadu Buhari leading the pack, backed by his Nigerien counterpart, Issouf, and the steering committee for the projects, co-chaired by Nigerian and Nigerien ministers and a separate team led by Nigeria’s Engineer Rabiu Suleiman, supported by the Director-General, Hydrocarbon of Niger Republic, to develop the implementation roadmap and strategy for both the refinery and pipeline projects, a plausible offering for oil sufficiency in Nigeria and Niger is assured for the two neighbouring nations with excellent relations, sharing common cultural and historical ties for decades. This is no doubt a deal that would be a “win-win” situation for the two nations.
The decision not to leave the project in the wings of conventional bureaucratic practices but in the hands of experts with tested references, adds credence to the bilateral deal. The framework committees that will come up with a detailed roadmap and guideline, bankable feasibility studies for the refinery and pipeline projects, optimal project site, pipeline routes and details, security plan and selected consortia of investors are an excellent measurable template for the success of this initiative.
Is the projected duration for completion of the projects put at between three to four years a possibility?Only time can tell. Until then, we watch in welcoming expectations, the economic romance between Nigeria and the Republic of Niger.