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Niger-Benin Oil Pipeline Attacked

In a tragic incident, unidentified assailants attacked soldiers guarding the major Niger-Benin oil pipeline, resulting in the deaths of six soldiers. Three security sources confirmed the attack, which took place between the villages of Salkam and Tibiri in Niger's southeastern Dosso region.

The assault targeted a patrol unit assigned to protect the pipeline. Despite the violence, the pipeline itself sustained no damage, according to one source.

As of now, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the region is known for the presence of militant groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS, raising concerns about the potential involvement of these groups. This marks the first attack on security forces tasked with safeguarding the pipeline, highlighting the escalating risks in the area, including to oil infrastructure.

The Niger-Benin pipeline is designed to transport crude oil from Niger's Agadem field to the port of Seme in Benin, covering approximately 2,000 km. The pipeline represents a crucial economic development for Niger, providing a reliable export route that can boost its oil revenue.

Niger's oil industry, relatively nascent, began significant production in 2011 with the development of the Agadem oil field by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). The country's oil production, though modest compared to major global producers, is a critical component of its economy, contributing substantially to national revenue and attracting foreign investment in exploration and infrastructure development.

International oil companies are already facing difficult decisions in Niger, needing to find a balance between the potential for significant oil reserves against the geopolitical and operational risks. The country's relatively underexplored basins offer attractive opportunities for new discoveries, and the government has shown a willingness to work with foreign investors by offering favorable terms and supporting infrastructure development. However, security concerns, political instability, and underdeveloped infrastructure can pose significant hurdles to operations.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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