Lagos, Nigeria | AFP |
Nigeria and Morocco are in talks over a huge project to extend a West African gas pipeline to stretch up towards Europe, officials say.
Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said in a government video posted on Twitter on Friday that the pipeline would “go along the coast from West Africa — Nigeria — all the way up to Morocco and into Europe eventually”.
“That’s a very big and important project for us,” Onyeama added, without giving further details.
The construction of west Africa’s biggest gas pipeline, linking Nigeria’s energy-rich south to consumer markets on the region’s coast — Benin, Togo and Ghana — began in 2005, with deliveries starting five years later.
Onyeama’s comments came as Morocco’s King Mohammed VI wrapped up a two-day visit to Abuja, where he met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
Moroccan media reported that the pipeline extension topped the agenda in the talks, with the Economie-Enterprise website reporting that the two countries would sign a memorandum of understanding shortly for the “highly ambitious project estimated at several billion dollars”.
The Telquel.ma website said the work would see the pipeline extended “towards Morocco, passing through Dakar”.
— Geoffrey Onyeama (@GeoffreyOnyeama) December 2, 2016
Algeria held talks with Nigeria as far back as 2002 for a similar pipeline crossing the Sahel region, but ultimately the Algerian government was unable to finance the project.
Major oil exporter Nigeria also has huge untapped gas resources — the largest proven reserves in Africa and the seventh largest globally.
But its energy-rich Niger Delta area is frequently hit by attacks by militants seeking a fairer distribution of the nation’s resource wealth, including assaults on pipelines that seriously dented oil and gas production in 2016.