China National Petroleum Corp has signed a US$5 billion oil deal with Niger, AP reported. The deal with the West African country involves exploration, drilling and construction of pipelines, and a refinery. Niger’s mining minister said he hoped oil extraction from the area, known as the Agadem block, could begin before the end of 2011. The Niger government estimates that the Agadem block contains 324 million barrels of oil. The refinery would have a capacity of 20,000 barrels a day. The area had not been exploited earlier because of the cost of oil extraction was too high.