Despite scepticism around the plan, countries along the proposed gas pipeline route from Nigeria to Morocco continue to sign up.
Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. (NNPC) and Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (ONHYM) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone.
The NMGP will cross 12 countries, with seven now having signed MoUs with Nigeria and Morocco.
NNPC said signing the MoU was “yet another significant step” in progressing the Nigeria Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP). The company head Mele Kyari said Africa would benefit “immensely” from the project, as it would help power countries along the pipeline route.
“Other benefits include the creation of wealth and improvement in the standard of living of our citizenry, increased co-operation between our countries while mitigating against desertification and other benefits to be derived from a reduction in carbon emissions,” Kyari said.
NNPC will provide a “continuous supply” of gas for the pipeline, he said. It will also oversee the provision of land to host the first, of 13, compressor stations.
Kyari signed the MoUs, as did ONHYM director general Amina Benkhadra.
The Petroleum Directorate of Sierra Leone (PDSL) director general Foday Mansaray attended the ceremony in Rabat, on December 5. PDSL noted that the project would carry gas from West Africa to Morocco and into Europe. It could connect to the under used Gazoduc Maghreb Europe (GME), which runs into Spain.
The pipeline could cost $25 billion and run for around 6,000 km. In addition to carrying gas north, the pipeline operator could also build spurs to supply landlocked states of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.
PDSL said it expected the project would “create access to affordable gas, job opportunities and significant economic growth for Sierra Leone”.
Baboucarr Njje, managing director of Gambia National Petroleum Company (GNPC) said the NMGP would enhance The Gambia’s prospects.
NNPC and ONHYM have also signed MoUs with Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Petrosen and Societe Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures (SMHPM).
Despite the positivity, there are still a number of challenges for the project. Europe seems unlikely to want to invest in new pipeline capacity, preferring more flexible LNG, and the African states would struggle to find the financing.
Furthermore, the pipeline runs through disputed waters off Western Sahara.