Called a «mirage» by Algeria, the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline project back to ECOWAS

After Algeria recently described it as a «mirage», the gas pipeline project to link Nigeria to Morocco, passing through several West African countries is the subject of an ECOWAS meeting this week. Morocco is represented there by the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM).

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The capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou is hosting, this week, a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the development process of the West Africa gas pipeline extension project (WAGPEP). In a statement published on its website, ECOWAS explained that «the objective of the meeting is to exchange with member states on current developments related to WAGPEP».

«It will also be a question of presenting to the Member States the current state of implementation of WAGPEP, then to take stock of the interactions between WAGPEP and the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP) and finally to collect the orientations of the States members on the synergy process between WAGPEP and NMGP».


This meeting is marked by the participation of representatives of the ministries in charge of hydrocarbons and energy from the 15 ECOWAS member states. «Several other institutions are also expected in Ouagadougou, notably the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the West African Gas Pipeline Authority (AGAO), the Société du gazoduc de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (WAPCo), the ECOWAS Infrastructure Project Preparation and Development Unit (PPDU), the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Moroccan National Hydrocarbons and Mines Office (ONHYM)», ECOWAS wrote.

«Two projects contributing to common objectives»

The regional organization recalls that in 2015, its Commission initiated a feasibility study for the extension of the gas pipeline network in West Africa, on the recommendation of the heads of state and government. «The conclusions of the study were adopted by the sectoral ministers in charge of energy/hydrocarbons then by the statutory bodies of ECOWAS in December 2018 in Abuja, leading to a meeting of stakeholders for the development of phase 1 of the West African Gas Pipeline Extension Project (WAGPEP)», it further explained.

ECOWAS notes that «in the interval between the development of WAGPEP, Nigeria and Morocco have initiated the construction of a gas pipeline (Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline), to enhance Nigeria's significant natural gas reserves and respond to the growing needs of Morocco and Europe for natural gas».

«In view of the conclusions of the study on the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP), it appeared that the common objectives are the development of gas resources in the region and the supply of clean energy to countries, including the Member States of ECOWAS».


The end of the Algeria-Nigeria gas pipeline project

The West African Economic Community's interest in the Moroccan-Nigerian gas pipeline project comes at a time when Algerian officials unearthed a pipeline project between Nigeria and Algeria via Niger, dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum even announced, during his visit to Nigeria at the end of last month, «the resurrection of the trans-Saharan gas pipeline project between Algeria and Abuja». Algerian media then reported that the visit of the Algerian foreign minister «put an end to the Moroccan gas pipeline project».

For his part, the Algerian Minister of Energy, Abdelmadjid Attar described, on Monday, the Moroccan-Nigerian gas pipeline project as «unimaginable» and «political», adding that «technically, it remains very difficult to achieve because it crosses several countries».

However, the interest of ECOWAS in the Moroccan project contradicts the certainties of the Algerian minister, and the Algerian-Nigerian project, which has been forgotten for decades. Moreover, the terrorism risk in the areas crossed makes the Algiers project difficult to implement. 

It should be noted that the relationship between the West African Economic Community and Algeria has not been at its best in recent months, because of Mali. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune recently expressed his deep annoyance at the measures taken by the regional grouping concerning the development of the situation in Mali.

«They did not consult us, and in turn we did not consult them and we will not consult them on the financial matters», he argued, assuring that «the solution to the crisis in Mali will not be achieved without an agreement with Algeria».

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