Studies on the highly strategic Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline project are progressing “in very good conditions,” said Amina Benkhadra, Director General of the Moroccan National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM), on Friday in Brussels.
“This megaproject, born from the vision of HM King Mohammed VI and for which an agreement was signed in May 2017 to conduct feasibility and engineering studies between ONHYM and NNPC [Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation], is progressing appropriately,” said Benkhadra, who was speaking at a round-table discussion on the project of this pipeline, as part of the 33rd Extraordinary Session of Crans Montana Forum Africa.
ONYHM and NNPC are working in “total synergy,” she assured, emphasizing the steps taken by the project, since its launch during the official visit of HM King Mohammed VI, in December 2016 in Abuja, and the signing of the related agreement, on June 10, 2018, during a visit to Rabat of the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.
“The feasibility study was completed in 2018 and we decided to move to the main FEED [Front-End Engineering Design] study in two stages: The Pre-FEED and the Main FEED,” she explained.
“The Pre-FEED was completed in 2019 and it has ensured the major elements of the profitability of the project, and we are since May 2021 on the detailed engineering study, which allows to prepare all the files and all the technical aspects, but also managerial, financial, legal and commercial to go to the final investment decision,” she further detailed.
Noting that the current study is going “very positively”, she stressed the importance of “the accession of ECOWAS to the project, which gave its agreement in 2020 to have a single pipeline project on the West African coast.
The study is underway in very good conditions and we hope to be at the rendezvous of this highly strategic project and very important for the economic and social integration of our continent,” said the Director General of ONHYM.
She added that “all possible synergies have been taken into account to ensure the optimal convergence of this pipeline,” noting that “environmental issues are an integral part of our approach, as well as all issues of supply and demand of each country and aspects related to the security of facilities.”
Emphasizing the benefits of this pipeline, Benkhadra explained that “this project of continental scope will accelerate the electrification of a number of countries on the West African coast, promote industrial and agricultural development of the region, which has great natural wealth and could be developed more quickly through access to low-cost energy, ensure a considerable regional integration of the continent, improve the lives of the population, reduce gas flaring and develop gas exports to Europe.
With the ambition to be a catalyst for the development of the West African coast, with sixteen countries involved (thirteen Atlantic countries and three landlocked countries), this project will impact 340 million people in the region, connect 5400 billion cubic meters of gas and integrate the economies of countries with a combined GDP of 670 trillion dollars, said Benkhadra.
This project is all the more strategic in the current context of the war in Ukraine, which has amplified the need for Europe to diversify its gas supplies, she noted, noting that the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline is in this regard an opportunity for Europe.
“Integrative project, this megaproject is likely to be supported by financial institutions and multilateral and bilateral stakeholders,” she concluded.