Niger’s petroleum industry will provide the West African state US$164 million in revenue in 2012, and eliminate the need for costly imports, the government said.
Niger began producing oil and refining it at a plant 900 km (540 miles) east of the capital Niamey last month following a $5 billion joint venture deal with China National Petroleum Corporation. CNPC holds a 60 percent stake.
“In 2012, with the SORAZ (refinery), we will hit 80 billion CFA francs ($164 million),” Finance Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou said on state television on Saturday, referring to state revenue from the petroleum industry, Reuters reports.
Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, is hoping its oil will eventually provide a major revenue boost and help citizens by lowering retail fuel costs. Protests over high fuel prices marred the refinery’s startup ceremony last month.
An official at the Ministry of Commerce told Reuters that plans to start selling cheaper refined fuel from the 20,000 barrel per day refinery in December had been delayed as the country runs down its stockpiles of costlier imported fuel.
“For December, we are still using imported fuel,” the official said, asking not to be named. “The authorities have not set final prices for fuel from SORAZ.”
Oil for the SORAZ refinery comes from Niger’s Agadem field. Niger and CNPC are planning a crude oil pipeline through Chad for 2013 or 2014 that will allow Niger to export crude from the field as it ramps up output.
Niger’s 2012 budget predicts GDP growth of 8.5 percent in 2012, versus 3.8 percent this year. The bulk of Niger’s revenues currently come from its uranium mining industry.