The Republic of Niger is located in West Africa, between latitude 12° North and the Tropic of Cancer.  It represents a traditional link between North and Central Africa.  It covers a surface area of 1,267,000 square kilometres (490,000 square miles).  The total population is 15 million inhabitants.

The capital, Niamey, is located on the Niger River in the south-west of the country.  Lake Chad represents the south-eastern border.  The relief is generally low except around the Air Massif and Djado Plateau where altitudes range from 500 to 1,500m.

Exploration history

After geological surveys carried out during the fifties, pioneer exploration was initiated in 1960 by PETROPAR (PREPA, CEP) with geophysical activities in the Djado Basin and west of the Air Massif (Tamesna-Talak area), and the drilling of nine wells (1962-1964).

A further prospecting permit was awarded to GLOBAL Energy (1970-1979) for the exploration of the north-eastern areas, known as the Kafra-Seguedine grabens.  During the same period, GLOBAL and SUN OIL were granted exploration rights in the Dosso area, in the Niamey region (one well was drilled in 1975), and CONOCO explored the south-central part of the country (one well in 1975).

From 1970 to 1980, TEXACO, then ESSO devoted exploration efforts to the Agadem basin (in the East Niger grabens area) where ten wells were drilled, in some of which there were good shows of light crude oil (Madama-1, Yogou- 1).

In 1978, ELF AQUITAINE was granted exploration rights in the Lullemeden basin and in the Bilma area (south of the Djado basin).  After relinquishing these blocks, ELF took part in exploration of the Agadem permit, as operator, in 1980.  The first extensive modern seismic survey was shot there and two more structures were drilled, one of them (Sokor) yielding significant results.

A new permit in the Agadem basin was awarded to ELF in association with ESSO in 1985.  This permit was renewed in 1990, and 50% of the remaining acreage was released.  Another 25% of the acreage was relinquished in 1996, and ESSO became operator for a supplementary five-year period.

Two permits were awarded respectively to HUNT OIL COMPANY in the Djado basin in December 1992 and to TG WORLD ENERGY on the West Termit and Ténéré grabens in April 1997.

Legal Framework

Key provisions in research and exploitation

The main legal provisions with regard to exploration and production activities are as follows:

  • Exploration licence, granted for a maximum of 4 years, renewable twice for a maximum of 2 years each time;
  • Possibility of extending validity of the second renewal for 1 extra year;
  • Production licence granted for 25 years, renewable for 10 years;
  • Both Concessions and Production Sharing Contract regimes are applicable;
  • Signature bonus is applicable;
  • Payments of surface fees and royalties are applicable;
  • Stabilization of economic and fiscal regimes from the signature of the licence.

Economic and fiscal provisions

Provisions applicable to Concessions contracts

  • Direct income tax between 45% and 60%;

Provisions applicable to PSC contracts

  • Cost Oil up to 70%;
  • Tax Oil from 40%;

Common provisions to Concession and PSC contracts

  • Ad Valorem Royalty between 12.5% and 15% for crude oil, and between 2.5% and 5% for natural gas;
  • Custom exemption for importation of all material, supply, equipment and spare parts used for petroleum operations during the exploration period and the first 5 years of production;
  • Exemption of tax on turnover, VAT and all similar taxes for the total duration of the operations (Exploration, Development and Production);
  • Free import and export of petroleum products;
  • Free funds conversion and transfer.

Petroleum potential

East Niger

The structure of East Niger is characterised by two basin systems: the Palaeozoic Djado Basin to the northeast, and a series of grabens, mainly filled with Cretaceous and Tertiary sediments, which extend over a distance of 1000km from the Algerian border to Lake Chad.

The Palaeozoic Djado Basin, which is the southern extension of the Libyan Murzuc Basin, stretches southwards from the Libyan border for a distance of at least 300km.  It is bounded by the Ténéré Massif to the west and the Tibesti massif to the east.  The Palaeozoic series succession is more than 2000m.

The structure of the basin is controlled by north-south and northeast-southwest trending basement faults, the latter being responsible for the major folds (some cut by faults) which are observed at the surface.  The regular shape of the basin at the surface is complicated by a north-south and northeast-southwest trending fault network at depth.  Some of the faults are wrench-induced and create local folding in Palaeozoic units.

The NNW-SSE trending East Niger Grabens are filled with sedimentary rocks ranging in age from Early Cretaceous to Neogene, with thickness up to 12,000m.  This Grabens System includes the following individual grabens – Kafra, Grein, Bilma, Agadem (known as the Ténéré Graben in the north and the Termit Graben to the south), Tefidet, West Termit and N’Gel Egji.

The grabens system is controlled by a series of north-south, NW-SE and NNW-SSE trending faults, which were active at different times and at different locations with either an extensional or strike-slip character.  The orientation, stratigraphy and internal structure of the grabens result from a complex tectonic history which also affected Sudan and Chad.  Strongly subsidised troughs, horsts and tilted blocks, active faults and erosion are all characteristic of these grabens, which are interpreted to result from successive rift and sag phases between the Permian-Triassic and the Tertiary.

West Niger

The Lullemeden Basin which extends to the west of the Air Massif is characterised by a vast structural depression, which covers an area of about 360,000 square kilometres in Niger.  It is filled with 1,500 to 2,000 m of Palaeozoic to Tertiary sediments.  The Palaeozoic succession crops out in the Tamesna-Talak area in the northern part of the basin.  The deep structure of the basin is more complex than it may be assumed to be from the Upper Cretaceous-Tertiary outcropping aureolas:

  • Palaeozoic to Lower Senonian units are organised as a succession of wedges, thinning from north to south.
  • The deep structural configuration is thought to be controlled by a dominant north-south block-faulting possibly caused by Hercynian tectonics.
  • Geophysical data indicate the presence of a series of deep, narrow grabens in the southwest.

Current upstream activities

Exploration blocks

Presently four blocks are under exploration licence:

  • Kafra block, held by SONATRACH;
  • Ténéré block, held by the CNPC, in association with T.G. WORLD ENERGY;
  • Bilma block, held by CBPC;
  • Agadem block, held by CNPC.

Exploration activities

A total of 105 wells have been drilled to date, with a very high concentration in the Agadem area.  These include the following: 76 exploration wells, 17 evaluation wells and 12 development wells.  A number of wells drilled in the 1970’s were implanted based on unreliable seismic data and sometimes on surface structures.  The value of these implantations is therefore questionable, and the results of these former wells must be taken with reserve.

Development activities

12 development wells have been drilled on Goumeri and Sokor fields since the year 2010.  The production started at the end of the year 2011

The refinery of Zinder

In order to satisfy the increasing demand of petroleum products, the Government of Niger decided to build a refinery with a capacity of 20,000 barrels per day.  The refinery, in the region of Zinder, was commissioned in November 2011.  The construction has been completed and this refinery will allow production of gasoline, gas oil and LPG in a first phase.

The Agadem-Zinder pipeline

With a length of 462.5 km and a diameter of 12 inches, the pipeline will supply the refinery of Zinder in crude oil from the Agadem deposits.  Studies are currently underway for the construction of another pipeline infrastructure to export crude products on the international market.

Other opportunities for oil exploration and production

  • The establishment of a single board in the Ministry of Mines and Energy regarding upstream activities;
  • The proximity of main African oil producing countries (Nigeria, Algeria, Libya and Chad), which provides opportunity for the exportation of crude products;
  • A number of oil infrastructures currently under construction
  • The Trans Saharan Gas Pipeline project.
Map of Petroleum Blocks in Niger


  • Direction Générale des Hydrocarbures
  • Ministère des Mines et de l’Energie
  • Tel: +227 20 73 39 69          Fax: +227 20 73 27 59
  • Immeuble ONAREM
  • BP 10 700 Niamey
  • République du Niger