Morocco, Nigeria Intensify Talks for Planned Gas Pipeline

Oil and energy officials from Nigeria and Morocco met to elevate discussions toward a final investment decision for a planned transborder gas pipeline linking North and West Africa. “The project, among other things, will help drive the monetization of Nigeria’s gas resources, maintain NNPC Ltd.’s energy leadership in Africa, and promote economic and regional cooperation among African Countries”, the Nigerian National Petroleum Co. Ltd. (NNPC) said in a statement about the talks.

The pipeline is proposed to run from Nigeria to Morocco passing through Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania.   While the project agreement was signed 2017, a memorandum of understanding was signed September 2022 merging the West Africa gas pipeline extension project of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Nigeria-Morocco pipeline. 

The project is planned to have a gas transport capacity of 3.0 billion cubic feet per day, according to NNPC. “In a bid to fast-track the process of achieving the Final Investment Decision on the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline, the Federal Government has intensified discussions with the Kingdom of Morocco”, NNPC said. 

It explained, “Due to the international nature of the project, the ECOWAS Commission is saddled with the responsibility to, among other things, facilitate inter-governmental treaty and host government agreements, establishment of Pipeline Higher Authority, and alignment with AU [African Union], UN and other relevant international bodies”. 

Morocco and Nigeria met last week through Nigerian Petroleum Resources Minister Ekperikpe Ekpo, Moroccan Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development Leila Benali, NNPC executive vice-president (gas, power and new energy) Olalekan Ogunleye and Director-General of the Morocco National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines Amina Benkhadra, NNPC said. 

“The talks focused on how to drive the partnership between the two countries to accelerate the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline Project in line with the series of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed between the two countries in Abuja in 2022”, it said. “Both parties emphasized the strategic importance of the project to the two countries and the entire African continent and the need to drive it to completion expeditiously in line with the objective of stemming energy poverty on the African continent”. 

Last June more African countries signed MOUs committing themselves to pursuing the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline project.  Four MOUs were inked June 16, 2023, by NNPC, Morocco’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines, Benin’s National Hydrocarbons Co., Cote d’Ivoire’s National Company for Petroleum Operations, Guinea’s National Petroleum Co. and Liberia’s National Oil Co.

“These Memoranda of Understanding, similar to those signed with ECOWAS on September 15, 2022, Mauritania and Senegal on October 15, 2022, and The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Ghana on December 5, 2022, reaffirm the commitment of the Parties to this strategic project”, NNPC said in a news release at the time. “Once completed, the project will enhance the monetization of the natural gas resources of the affected African countries and also offer a new alternative export route to Europe”.