A new pipeline project to bring Nigerian gas through Africa to Europe has been launched by the sovereign wealth funds of Nigeria and Morocco, in the latest attempt to link Nigeria’s vast gas resources with the lucrative European gas market.

The Trans-African Pipeline will be developed jointly by the Moroccan sovereign wealth fund Ithmar Capital and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, the partners said Monday, November 5,2016.

Nigeria has huge gas reserves totaling some 5.1 Tcm, according to the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy, but few options for monetizing the gas other than its LNG export facility. A previous pipeline project, the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline was agreed on between Nigeria’s NNPC and Algeria’s Sonatrach in 2002, and an intergovernmental accord signed in 2009, but there has been little progress on the project ever since, given the huge distances involved and the high cost of developing such a vast pipeline project.

On Monday, the governments of Nigeria and Morocco announced they would jointly develop a new regional gas pipeline “connecting the two countries, bringing the resources of Nigeria to Morocco, its neighbors and Europe”. It is unclear exactly the route the pipeline would take, though the developers foresee it following the coast.

“The pipeline will run an estimated 4,000 km along the west coast of Africa and the countries through which it runs and the exact route will be determined as the project moves forward, based on further research, Morocco and Nigeria are eager to work with all countries in West Africa to ensure their economies and people benefit from the project,” a spokesman for Ithmar said.

Following the coast, however, would mean a route that would need the participation of up to 13 other countries. The shortest route to Europe would be via Niger and Algeria to Morocco for further pipeline supply to Spain. The spokesman said the routing had yet to be finalized, but that talks were expected with countries in the region.

The two state wealth funds announced the signing of a strategic partnership agreement and a memorandum of understanding that will see the two countries cooperate on bilateral investment for the first time in recent history. “The project will strengthen energy exports to Europe, linking Nigerian gas to the European energy market through Morocco,” Ithmar said. It is also designed to support the creation of industrial hubs to attract foreign investment into West Africa.

The previously planned 30 Bcm/year Trans-Sahara link was designed to run for 1,037 km from Nigeria to the border with Niger, before running 841 km from Niger to Algeria and then another 2,303 km across Algeria to Spain.

Johnson Alabi
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