$12b trans-Saharan gas project to miss 2018 deadline

The $12 billion Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline Project (TSGP), expected to help Nigeria achieve zero gas flaring by 2020, remains an illusion, 17 years after it was conceived.

The project should have been completed this year.

Nigeria signed a treaty with Niger and Algeria in 2009 to build the pipeline, which should begin from Calabar and pass through Kano to the border.

The estimated length is about 4,400 km, with over 1,037 km in Nigeria, 853 km in Niger, 2,310 km in Algeria, and 220 km connecting Algeria to Spain.

In 2013, the Federal Government approved a budget of $400 million for commencement. But some national and international companies that showed interest, including Total and Gazprom, grew pessimistic on security along the pipeline route. They also worried about increasing costs.

A source told The Guardian that the delay in taking the Final Investment Decision (FID) on Olokola Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Brass LNG and the Nigeria LNG Train 7 project hindered commitment by financiers.

“The investors are aware that Nigeria is currently facing the challenge of meeting its gas obligation to neighbouring African countries through the West Africa Gas Pipeline Company, due to insecurity in the Niger Delta.

“If we are unable to deliver gas to Ghana and Togo, how can we meet the demand for gas in Europe through the Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline? Ghana has started looking elsewhere for its gas supply and this is not good for the country and investors in the pipeline project,” the source said.

The Chief Infrastructure Officer, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Adamu Umar, confirmed that the project is yet to move beyond the first stage.

According to him, the promoters are in charge of the situation, stressing that all necessary approvals have been granted. The investors, according to him, are consortiums of Nigerian and Chinese companies.

But an associate researcher at the Africa and Energy Programmes of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), Benjamin Auge, is of the view that the project could remain a dream for much longer.