The oil refining company Soraz, majority owned by China, cut off the petrol tap at the Nigerien Petroleum Products Company (Sonidep) for unpaid invoices, preventing the latter from honoring its commitments to its customers and imposing a shortage on Nigeriens. If this conflict is not resolved, significant financial losses are feared on both sides, with consumers being the first victims.
Nothing is going well between the Nigerien Oil Company (Sonidep) and its Chinese partners, who hold a majority stake in the Zinder oil refinery (Soraz). For the past few days, Soraz has been closing the valves, refusing to allow any delivery of petroleum products to the state-owned Sonidep, which markets the product.
A shortage of petrol has since been noted at several petrol stations in Niamey and in the interior of the country. At the refinery site and delivery points, several dozen blocked tankers are still waiting for the precious liquid.
According to several sources, Soraz is claiming 52 billion CFA francs (nearly 79 million euros) in unpaid bills from Sonidep. The state, in turn, through the tax authorities, is claiming 62 billion CFA francs (93 million euros) from Soraz for various unpaid taxes.
One of the consequences of this arm wrestling, which is not the first of its kind, is that since Thursday, large quantities of defrauded hydrocarbons are visible on the streets of the capital.
Another source of insecurity is the lack of a national security stockpile of hydrocarbons. Since the creation of Soraz, the national security reserve has been in the hands of the Chinese National Petroleum Company of China (NPC), which can block delivery at any time for unpaid debts, as is the case today.