Border Dispute with Benin Hampers First Shipment of Nigerien Oil to China

Benin has blocked exports of Nigerien crude oil from its Port Seme in retaliation for Niger keeping its southern border closed to Beninese goods.

What You Need to Know

An ongoing border dispute between the nations has hampered China’s effort to receive its first shipment of Nigerien oil, for which it constructed a purpose-built pipeline.

The Niger-Benin Oil Pipeline (NBEP) was constructed by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) between 2019 and 2023, in an attempt to tap into landlocked Niger’s oil fields, which sit at the far east of the country.

According to Bloomberg, the shipments are “part of a $400 million commodity-backed loan from the CNPC. Niger, which borrowed the funds from China at 7% interest, plans to repay the debt by shipping oil to the Asian nation for 12 months.”

However, the first repayment is yet to be made, with Benin stating its Port Seme shall not export any Nigerien oil until Niger agrees to open its southern border to goods coming from Benin.

Niger’s border, however, remains closed despite ECOWAS easing the sanctions it had placed on the country after the military junta took power in July of 2023.

Benin’s President, Patrice Talon, stated, “Benin immediately implemented measures to lift sanctions and open our borders… It’s unfortunate to note that since then, Niger hasn’t done the same.”

“If you want to load your oil in our waters, you can’t view Benin as an enemy and at the same time expect your oil to cross our territory,” the President said.

The Details

The dispute became inflamed as the result of a decree issued by Niger on the 11th of May banning Beninese vehicles from operating between Togo’s Lome Port and locations in Niger.

The decree outlined that only vehicles registered in Togo or Niger could operate on the corridor, despite its connection with Benin. The decree added that vehicles registered in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Ghana could operate on the corridor in periods of high demand but maintained the exclusion of Beninese freight trucks.

So, What Now?

It is unlikely the dispute is going to be brought to a close anytime soon, with Niger adamant on keeping its southern border closed, most likely due to the country’s ties with France and the United States. However, Niger does need to export its oil for fear of defaulting on its loan agreement with China. Furthermore, being landlocked, transporting the oil by road would raise enormous costs.

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.

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