The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources (Gas), Ekperikpe Ekpo, says the construction of the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline Project which aims to link European market is expected to begin in 2024.
Under this project, Gas is expected to be transported through the participating countries, including Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, and Morocco.
Ekpo, while receiving a delegation of envoys from the Kingdom of Morocco led by its Ambassador to Nigeria, Moha Ou Ali Tagma on Monday in Abuja, said Nigeria was ready and interested in the project.
The delegation visited the minister for a bilateral discussion on cooperation and commitment towards finalising the Trans-Atlantic pipeline project and also on the development of its fertiliser plant in Nigeria.
Recall that the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline Project has advanced with the signing of four Memoranda of Understanding, MoU, in June 2023 to ensure progress and strategic direction of the 25 billion dollars Trans-Atlantic project.
MoUs were signed between the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd), Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines, ONHYM of Morocco and the Société Nationale des Opérations Pétrolières of Cote d’Ivoire, PETROCI, among others.
Once completed, the project will enhance the monetisation of the natural gas resources of the affected African countries and also offer a new alternative export route to Europe.
Ekpo, while expressing Nigeria’s interest and readiness said with its position of 209 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves, there was need to supply gas to the continent before exporting to other continents.
The Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline project is a critical infrastructure that spans across 5,600 kilometres, cutting through 13 African countries: Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, and Morocco.
Once completed, it will transport gas from Nigeria to various West African nations, linking through Morocco and extending to Europe.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), had in September highlighted multiple advantages of the pipeline, emphasizing its potential to create wealth, elevate living standards, boost regional economic integration, combat desertification, and notably reduce carbon emissions.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, stressed the company’s commitment to ensuring a consistent gas supply. They will also facilitate necessary infrastructure, like the initial compressor station located in Nigeria.
The pipeline’s journey begins at Brass Island in Nigeria and extends to the northern region of Morocco. There, it will connect with the existing Maghreb European Pipeline originating from Algeria and extending to Spain.
While receiving the Moroccan Ambassador to Nigeria, on Monday, Ekpo said: “I believe by 2024 we will conclude on it. Your company has been relating with NNPC Limited and I have been receiving briefs. We also talked about it during the meeting of the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) Committee Parties.
“For the fact that the pipeline existing within that corridor currently is 20 inches; there is a proposal to increase the size after Togo to 46 inches so that the flow will be large enough. Currently, the world is talking about climate change and natural gas is the sure way to go with low carbon emissions, so we have to be serious about the utilization of gas for prosperity.”
Meanwhile, some analysts have said that the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline is not a viable project due to a few factors:
First off, the project has experienced several delays over the years.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the project was signed in December 2016 and June 2018 with no viable decision or action before it was eventually signed again on September 15, 2022.
Earlier in April, oil and gas analyst, Dan D Kunle, said the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline project lacks economic viability in Nigeria’s current gas industry landscape.
According to him, the country needs comprehensive studies from top global financial institutions to assess its economic impact, financial returns for Nigeria, and agreements with countries the pipeline crosses.
He said that without proper technical and financial evaluations, funding for the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline remains uncertain.
Meanwhile, Kyari had noted in the same month, that there is a clear line of sight in securing funding for the project.
At that time, Kunle went on to suggest that rather than the pipeline, Nigeria and Morocco should consider investing in LNG plants, regasification facilities in Moroccan ports, and LNG vessel carriers.
This approach offers more flexibility, access to diverse markets, and potential for broader trade in liquid fuels than a pipeline restricted to specific routes.
But speaking on Monday, the Moroccan Ambassador described the project as the most important in Africa aimed at exporting gas to Europe, adding that between 2016 and 2023 many meetings and MoUs signing had been held.
Tagma said the economic and technical studies being conducted on the project would be concluded early 2024, adding that the participating governments could decide to start its construction in 2024.
“The objective of this project is not to transport gas only but also to offer some opportunities for development of the countries between Nigeria and Morocco for supplying of energy”, he added..
The ambassador disclosed that its OCP Group, (formerly Office Chérifien des Phosphates), the most exporter of fertiliser in the world had inaugurated plants in Kaduna, Sokoto and Ogun states, then currently opening in Akwa Ibom.
He said the construction of the 1.5 billion dollars fertiliser plant project in Akwa Ibom would commence in December