The upstream oil industry is of potential importance to the Benin economy. The Sèmè oil field off Cotonou came on line in 1982 with a production of 8,000 bpd from two wells. Production tapered off to an average of 1,900 bpd in 1996. The oil field was officially shut in in December 1998. In 1999 Zetah Oil Company was awarded a licence to redevelop the Sèmè oilfield. The Sèmè gas reserves are estimated at 80 billion cubic feet.
The downstream oil industry is dependent on refined petroleum products imported from neighbouring Nigeria. Oil-derived products supply the large majority of the country’s commercial energy needs. In 1995 the oil market was liberalised. A new storage terminal in the port of Cotonou was opened in late 1999.
Benin is one of the countries involved in the planned West African gas pipeline running from Nigeria to Cote d’Ivoire.
Mineral resource ownership in Benin is vested in the state, which grants exclusive rights for exploration and development through the Ministère des Mines, de l’Energie, et de l’Hydraulique. The Benin Mining Code (Act No.83-003 of May 1983) is regulated by Decree 89-296, and Act No. 83-004 addresses fiscal policy that affects mineral development.