Nigeria, Niger, Algeria Set to Revive Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline Project

Nigeria, Niger and Algeria signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to build a natural gas pipeline that would go through the Sahara Desert, Algeria’s Energy Minister Arkab announced on Thursday. The three countries have already agreed in June to resume plans on the decades old project, which presents an opportunity for Europe to diversify its natural gas supplies away from Russia.

Arkab said the three countries will continue discussions to complete the project as quickly as possible.

The Trans-Saharan gas pipeline project is expected to worth around $13 billion and deliver an estimated 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas to Europe.

The pipeline is expected to span around 4,000 kilometers, start from Nigerian oil hub Warri and end in the Algerian town of According Hassi R’Mel, which is located near the world’s 18th largest gas field. From there, it would connect to existing pipelines that run to Europe.

The idea was first proposed more than 40 years ago and an agreement signed between the countries in 2009, but progress stalled.

Algeria exported 54 bcm of gas in 2021, most of which was sent to Italy and Spain.

The European Union’s search for new gas supplies to wean itself off from Russian dependence has increased the prospects of Africa as an alternative. Algeria, Niger and Nigeria are looking to cash in.

European attention to Africa has taken a new dimension as the EU tries to phase out Russian gas in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The security situation in the Sahel region and tensions between Algeria and Niger also delayed the project.

The discussion to build the pipeline could not restart until 2021, when Algeria and Niger reopened their border.

Earlier this week, EU member states agreed to reduce gas consumption as concerns grow that Russia might cut off already decreasing deliveries.

European Commission President von der Leyen had said the deal to reduce gas use was about preventing the Kremlin from being able to blackmail the EU with gas deliveries: to stop “Russia using gas as a weapon”.

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