Niger suspends oil shipments to Mali

An internal customs service note dated September 21 declared "the suspension of the issuing of transit authorisations for oil products granted to users in Mali".

Niger suspends oil shipments to Mali

NIAMEY, NIGER -Niger decided last week to suspend the transit shipment of oil products to neighbouring Mali, but the move preceded and had no link with recent criticism by Mali's leadership of Niger's president, government officials in Niamey said Tuesday.

An internal customs service note dated September 21 declared "the suspension of the issuing of transit authorisations for oil products granted to users in Mali".

Authorisations that had already been given to supply oil products to Mali were also suspended, but those intended for the United Nations MINUSMA peacekeeping force in Mali were exempted, the note added.

Nigerien customs had in August authorised some companies to move petroleum products from Nigeria, Africa's biggest crude producer, to neighbouring countries including Mali, through Niger, said Tidjani Abdoulkadri, the Niger government spokesman.

He accused the companies of engaging in "fraudulent practices" on the Nigerien market, for which the products were not meant.

"This suspension measure does not involve the export of refined petroleum products from Niger which continue to be exported to Mali," said a statement from Abdoulkadri.

The suspension decision came three days before the Malian junta's prime minister hit out against Niger's president during the UN General Assembly in New York.

Mali's Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, in a grievance-filled address, accused Mohamed Bazoum of "not being Nigerien".

According to Abdoulkadri, the suspension "has nothing to do" with those statements.

Niger's finance minister, Ahmat Jidoud, said "there is a coincidence of the calendar that some people tried to interpret as being a sort of reprisal against the brotherly Malian people. There is no correlation".

A customs source, asking not to be named, said: "This measure is really motivated by security reasons, nothing else."

MINUSMA oil supplies would be "escorted to the Mali border", the source added.

The customs sources said the oil products come from Niger itself and from Nigeria.

There are frequent reports of the hijacking of oil trucks on the Niger and Burkina Faso borders by jihadist groups.

Both Niger and Mali, where the junta seized power in 2020, have for years struggled to halt attacks by jihadists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.