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First Niger Oil Bound for China Blocked in West Africa Border Row

The West African nation of Benin has blocked China’s first shipment of crude oil from Niger amid an ongoing border dispute with Niger following a coup that has put a military junta in power and shaken relations with other African nations. 

China’s first imports of crude oil from Niger’s military junta arrived in Benin in three vessels but were prevented by the authorities from docking at the port. 

“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 carried by Business Insider Africa. “We’re open to working with Niger. They’re the ones that refused to allow trucks to cross.”

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 7% interest rate and repayment in oil for a period of 12 months, as reported by Bloomberg. Additionally, 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.

The deal has been disrupted by the coup in Niger last July in which the military junta seized power and closed its land border with Benin, which in turn slapped sanctions on Niger. Those sanctions have been lifted; however, Niger has kept the land border with Benin closed, and the latest oil shipment bound for China is now a bargaining chip. As of the time of writing, Niger’s junta has not responded to Benin’s statements.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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