(EnergyAsia, October 31, Friday) — China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has started construction work on two small oil refineries in the landlocked African states of Chad and neighbouring Niger.

The refineries will be the first for the two impoverished countries which have benefited from the resource boom and rising Chinese investment in recent years.

Niger’s planned 20,000 b/d refinery is located 950 km east of its capital city Niamey. About two thirds of its output will be exported when it is completed in 2011, giving the country a new source of foreign exchange earnings, said Prime Minister Seyni Oumarou.

CNPC has also signed an agreement to produce oil from the Agadem block by 2011 that will be exported through a new 2,000-km pipeline. CNPC is expected to invest a total of $5 billion in the three projects.

Across the border, the Chinese company also began building a 20,000 b/d refinery in Chad which is exporting its entire 150,000 b/d of crude output and importing all its product needs. The plant is expected to be expanded to 60,000 b/d at a later date.