Niger depends on petroleum imports for most of its production of electrical energy. Coal is mined at Anou Araren by the Nigerien Society of Anou Araren Coal (Société Nigérienne de Charbon d'Anou Araren—SONICHAR). The coal is used as fuel in a 37.7 MW thermal power station that serves Agadez and the uranium mines. Proved reserves of coal at Anou Araren are 6 million tons. The production of electricity comes totally from thermal stations. Their combined installed capacity was 63,000 kW in 2001. In 2000, 220 million kWh of electricity was produced. A 125-MW hydroelectric complex has been proposed near Ayorou, on the Niger River.
Oil exploration has been taking place in the Agadem Basin, north of Lake Chad, since 1975. Elf Aquitaine of France and Exxon have a joint exploration permit, with Elf controlling 62.5% of the venture and doing the actual exploration. Oil exploration is underway in the northeastern part of the country.