ENABLING Europe to tap into West Africa’s abundant natural gas supplies, the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline is expected to boost exploration in Niger and expand its energy industry.
With a length of 4,128km and an annual capacity of 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas, the Trans-Saharan Natural Gas Pipeline will link the Warri Region in southern Nigeria, passing through the Republic of the Niger, to the town of Hassi R’Mel in northern Algeria, from where it will connect to existing Trans-Mediterranean, Maghreb-Europe, Medgaz, and Galsi Pipelines, enabling Europe to tap into West Africa’s abundant natural gas reserves, and thus diversifying its supply and expanding critical revenue for West Africa’s oil and gas industry.
The development of the multi-billion-dollar pipeline began this year, following the signing of the Declaration of Niamey by Niger’s Minister of Petroleum, Energy and Renewable Energy, Mahamane Sani Mahamadou; Algeria’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Mohamed Arkab; and Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva during the third edition of the Economic Communities of West African States Mining and Petroleum Forum in the Republic of Niger’s capital city of Niamey on February 16.
The Trans-Saharan Natural Gas Pipeline is being developed through a partnership between Nigeria’s national oil company (NOC), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and Algeria’s NOC, Sonatrach – holding a combined share value of 90 percent – and Niger – which will hold the remaining 10 percent.
With much of the estimated $13bn investment being spent in Niger, and through which 841km will be constructed, the pipeline is expected to boost the energy sector of the landlocked, west African country, enabling it to monetise its vast natural gas resources and drive economic development. With an estimated 24 billion cubic metres of recoverable natural gas reserves in the country, the pipeline will allow Niger to boost its domestic gas supply and expand its petrochemical sector, serving to drive its agriculture industry, a major employer in the country.
Industry analysts say the pipeline will serve as a major opportunity for public and private stakeholders across Africa, further facilitating the continent’s potential to operate its energy industry independently across the entire value chain.
‘With developments such as these, Africa is truly positioning itself to benefit from its own resources, without becoming over reliant on other countries to develop its energy sector,’ says NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. He adds: ‘Through investment into its own oil and gas industry, local companies will be able to boost project developments and position the continent as a net exporter of hydrocarbons, creating critical opportunities to further develop the industry and spur African growth.’
With aims to become a regional hub for hydrocarbons, petrochemicals, and associated products, Niger has indicated its commitment towards taking advantage of the pipeline to boost the country’s natural gas sector, with a stated objective being for the hydrocarbon industry to account for approximately 35 percent of its GDP, 45 percent of tax revenue, and 68 percent of exports by 2025. The government will also use the pipeline to facilitate the development of a skilled working class, whereby a minimum of 50 percent of all technical roles in the energy industry will be filled by Nigeriens over the next decade.
Home to approximately 8 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves and with relatively little internal gas consumption, the African continent is seen as having considerable exporting potential and has been eyed by Europe as a way to diversify the supply of its natural gas imports. Algeria’s strategic position along the Mediterranean coast, and through connections with existing pipelines – or those already under construction – in Spain and Italy, the Trans-Saharan Natural Gas Pipeline is expected to serve as a long-term additional supply option for the European Union (EU).
The EU’s primary gas suppliers are Norway, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Russia, with the largest share of its gas supply being delivered from Russia, which currently accounts for approximately 38 percent of total natural gas imports to the continent. It has been estimated that Russia could supply the EU with up to 70 percent of its natural gas imports by 2050, with the Russian multinational natural gas company, Gazprom, having negotiated with Nigeria regarding its possible participation in the Trans-Saharan Natural Gas Pipeline.
Following the EU’s announcement to label natural gas projects as ‘green’ investments, the Trans-Saharan Natural Gas Pipeline is being viewed as an opportunity for the EU to, not only diversify its energy mix, but serve to address the continent’s ongoing energy crisis, with surging natural gas prices increasing demand and compromising its supply.
As one of the African continent’s most promising frontiers for hydrocarbon exploration and development, and with one of the most stable democracies in the region, Niger is poised to become a regional hydrocarbon, petrochemical, and gas hub, with the Trans-Saharan Natural Gas Pipeline serving to facilitate this development, enhancing the country’s energy industry, and promoting socio economic development.