Niger expects oil reserves in its eastern Agadem oil block could be three times higher than the previous estimate of 300 million barrels, the nation’s government has announced.
The poor West African state has signed a deal worth $5 billion with China’s CNPC to develop the Agadem block and, after three years of exploration and development, first oil is expected at the beginning of next year, Reuters reported.
“The outlook is promising. In fact, the number of barrels … could be doubled or even tripled according to our estimates,” the government said in a statement read on national television.
The revised forecast was broadcast after a cabinet meeting in Niamey, during which the ministry of mines and energy gave an update on progress in the oil sector, state television reported.
Under the deal, a 20,000 barrel per day refinery is also due to be built in the Zinder region, some 800 kilometres east of the capital. Excess oil is due to be exported through the Chad-Cameroon pipeline.
Niger has exported uranium for decades but, perched on the edge of the Sahara, remains one of Africa’s poorest nations and frequently battles droughts and food shortages, Reuters reported.