Niger group attacks China-backed pipeline, threatens more attacks

On Sunday night, an armed group opposing Niger’s ruling military government disabled a section of the PetroChina-funded crude oil pipeline, according to their statement.

The pipeline, with a capacity of 90,000 barrels per day (bpd), stretches nearly 2,000 km (1,243 miles), connecting Niger’s Agadem oilfield to Benin’s coast.

The infrastructure is intended for exports under a $400 million agreement with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC).

The Patriotic Liberation Front (FPL), which formed after Niger’s July 2023 coup, claimed responsibility for the attack. Their aim is to compel Niger’s Chinese partners to cancel the export deal. “Failing this, all oil assets will be paralysed in the next few actions,” the FPL warned, without providing further details.

Neither Niger’s government, PetroChina, CNPC, nor the pipeline operator West Africa Oil Pipeline (WEPCO) have responded to requests for comment.

This incident exacerbates the crisis surrounding the pipeline, which Niger had already shut off last Thursday due to a border dispute with Benin.

Additionally, a day before the pipeline was closed, unidentified assailants attacked soldiers guarding it in the southeastern Dosso region, resulting in six fatalities, according to security sources.

No group has claimed responsibility for this initial attack, which was the first targeting security forces protecting the pipeline. The area is known to have jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

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