Written by Osetemega Iribiri – September 19, 2022
At about 200 trillion cubic feet, Nigeria possesses the largest proven gas reserves in Africa and the seventh in the world. It is predominately untapped, flared, or re-injected into oil wells. In December 2016, King Mohammed VI of Morocco visited President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria. The two leaders agreed on a monumental scheme to take the Nigerian gas northwards.
Consequently, on September 15, 2022, the two nations, represented by Mallam Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Co Ltd (NNPC Ltd), and Dr. Amina Benkhadra, Director General, Morocco’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines, signed a memorandum of understanding in Rabat, Morocco. This agreement also had the fifteen (15) Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states as signatories represented by Mr. Sediko Douka, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy, and Digitalization. Their assent is vital as the pipeline will provide gas to the fifteen (15) ECOWAS countries as it traverses to Morocco. The 7,000 km pipeline will originate from Brass Island (South-South Nigeria) and terminate at the North of Morocco, where it will connect to the existing Maghreb European Pipeline (MEP) that originates from Algeria (via Morocco), all the way to Spain. Thereby also providing Spain and the rest of Europe with gas.
This development comes in the wake of Russia shutting gas channels to Europe and their increasing need for alternative gas sources. This pipeline may take decades to complete and billions of dollars to fund, but it will be one of the longest built ever. Additionally, nearly $60 million is committed to financing feasibility and engineering studies by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund for International Development and Islamic Development Bank. Once completed, the project will supply about three billion standard cubic feet of gas daily.
The signing of this MoU is also a positive step in South-South cooperation. Also, the West African countries through which it traverses will be able to produce more electricity through natural gas-fired thermal power plants. This project will also facilitate Africa’s economic diversification through increased productivity with functioning industries and South-North diplomatic relations.
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