Rabat – A start date has not been set yet for the construction of the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline, Nigeria’s Oil Minister Timpire Sylva has said, suggesting that some administrative details still need to be addressed.
While experts have carried out the feasibility study and some countries have already signed up to the project, there still remain details to be sorted out about when construction will actually start, explained the Nigerian minister.
“There are certain agreements that you must sign with every country,” he said.
In December 2022, Morocco’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) signed five Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with several countries that emphasized their support for the implementation of the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline.
The list of the signatories included Nigeria, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Ghana.
To date, seven countries have signed the agreement supporting the establishment of a gas pipeline project that will span over 13 countries along the Atlantic coast.
The gas pipeline is projected to benefit over 400 million inhabitants across West Africa.
Morocco, which will become home to 1,672 kilometers of the pipeline, has repeatedly stressed the importance of the project as a strategic milestone that will considerably contribute to the continent’s development.
“I want this to be a strategic project that benefits all of West Africa – a region which is home to more than 440 million people,” King Mohammed VI said in a speech on the Green March anniversary on November 6, 2022.
The pipeline could also be of particular significance for Europe amid the wide-ranging repercussions of the Ukraine-Russia conflict on European and worldwide energy markets.
The European Union is looking to diversify its base of energy suppliers amid sanctions against Russia.
According to recent statistics, the EU imported about 108 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas from Africa. Over 12 billion of the EU’s gas imports came from Nigeria, the official figures show.
The pipeline will also help ease Morocco’s energy challenges, particularly following Algeria’s unilateral decision to terminate the contract of the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline.
Algiers decided to terminate the contract for the pipeline, which was supplying Europe with Algerian gas through Morocco, in late 2021 in the midst of a diplomatic crisis with Rabat.
Over the past few months, there have been converging reports that some of the challenges facing the completion of the Nigeria-Morocco pipeline might be linked to Algerian sabotage.
The Algerian regime has been aggressively “pushing to relaunch plans for a Trans-Saharan Gas” pipeline, a project that would see Nigeria connected to Algeria’s Mediterranean coast via Niger.
However, experts believe that the Trans-Saharan pipeline would be “hugely vulnerable” due to security challenges in the Sahel as well as bureaucratic issues.