President Patrice Talon of Benin Republic

The Republic of Benin has denied Niger access to using its Cotonou Port for the first oil shipment to China due to frosty relations between the two West African nations following Niger’s continuous closure of its border with Benin.

Three vessels carrying crude oil from Niger and destined for China arrived in Benin but Benin authorities prevented them from docking at the port.

Niger produces just over 20,000 barrels of oil for domestic use per day and has advanced plans to increase daily production to over 100,000 for export using its neighbour’s ports to reach international markets.

The oil bound for China was part of a $400-million commodity-backed loan from China National Petroleum Corp, which Niger’s military junta agreed to at a seven per cent interest rate and repayment in oil for 12 months.

CNPC has invested some $4.6 billion in Niger’s oil industry, including the construction of a 1,200-mile pipeline transporting crude oil from Niger to Benin.

The pipeline was set to begin shipping 90,000 bpd in May and up to 110,000 bpd at full capacity.

Speaking about the effects of Niger’s ‘unfriendly posture’ on the economy of Benin, President Patrice Talon declared that the Contonou port would not be opened to Niger oil export unless the junta in Niamey ends the border blockade.

“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,” Benin’s President, Patrice Talon, said in a statement.

“We’re open to working with Niger. They’re the ones that refused to allow trucks to cross.

“Benin is not an enemy country and if tomorrow the Nigerien authorities decide to collaborate with Benin formally, the boats will be loaded,” he added.

The authorities in Niamey are yet to respond to Benin’s posture.