Benin Republic blocks China’s first oil shipment from Niger over border feud

China’s first crude shipment from Niger has been blocked due to an ongoing dispute between the landlocked West African nation and Benin.

Benin restricted the export of fuel from its port after Niger’s junta-led government declined to open its land border to goods coming from the south.

The shipments are part of a $400 million commodity-backed loan provided by China National Petroleum Corp.

Benin restricted the export of fuel from its port after Niger’s junta-led government declined to open its land border to goods coming from the south, announced Benin President Patrice Talon on Wednesday. At least three vessels of crude from Niger was prevented from docking.

What President Talon said:

“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,” he said in a statement. “We’re open to working with Niger. They’re the ones that refused to allow trucks to cross.”

The shipments are part of a $400 million commodity-backed loan provided by China National Petroleum Corp. Niger secured the funds from China at a 7% interest rate and intends to repay the debt by exporting oil to the Asian nation over 12 months, Bloomberg reported.

According to the International Monetary Fund, energy shipments will contribute to Niger’s projected economic growth of 11.2%, which puts it on top of African countries on the list of fastest-growing economies in 2024.

CNPC constructed a 1,200-mile pipeline to transport oil from Niger to Benin, as part of a $4.6 billion investment in Niger’s petroleum sector. The country was projected to commence shipping 90,000 barrels per day this month, with plans to raise the volume to 110,000 barrels per day when the pipeline becomes fully operational.

Last year, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), imposed border closures on land and air routes with Niger, to persuade the military junta, which seized power in a July coup, to reinstate civilian rule. While the sanctions were lifted earlier this year, Niger has maintained its land borders with Benin closed.

“Benin immediately implemented measures to lift sanctions and open our borders,” Talon said. “It’s unfortunate to note that since then, Niger hasn’t done the same.”

“We told the Chinese: be careful, there cannot be Chinese boats in our waters to load Nigerien products that the Nigeriens themselves have banned crossing Benin,” he said.

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