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Nigeria’s Gas Sector Attracts North African Interest

By Teddy Nwanunobi

Key countries in North Africa are seeking investment partnership with Nigeria in gas supply, as Nigeria’s gas supply to European markets has begun to generate interest.

The head of Algerian state-owned oil firm Sonatrach, Toufik Hakkar, announced on Monday that technical studies on the future construction of a trans-Saharan gas pipeline had been completed.

Hakkar added that Algiers was preparing for talks with Nigeria and Niger Republic on the pipeline’s construction.

Algiers had cut ties with regional rival, Morocco, last month, accusing Rabat of “hostile actions” toward Algeria, including stirring up dissent in Kabylie.

“A pipeline transiting the massive Sahara Desert has been proposed since the 1970s, but was judged prohibitively expensive”

However, the December pact Rabat signed with Israel is seen as even more threatening, which, they said, amounted to Rabat “introducing a foreign military force into the Maghreb”.

According to a report by an Algerian daily, El-Jaza’ir Hakkar made the announcement during an interview with National Radio Channel One on Monday.

He noted that a route for the line had been selected.

A pipeline transiting the massive Sahara Desert has been proposed since the 1970s, but was judged prohibitively expensive, and faced opposition on a number of fronts, including environmental groups in the Niger River Delta, as well as the danger of militant attacks against construction crews and the completed pipeline.

If completed, it would create a new connection between gas sources in Nigeria and markets in Europe, via Algeria’s own gas lines that extend deep into the desert.

Hakkar cautioned on Monday that, “the decision to launch such an investment” would depend heavily on the price of the gas it would carry.

He noted that since 2010, the price had fallen from $10 per thermal unit to less than $1 in 2020.

Algeria’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Mohamed Arkab, recently stated that Algiers would pay “special attention” to the “rapid” embodiment of the project.

“It (the project) will give a new impetus to the relations between our two countries, in terms of technical cooperation and capacity strengthening.

“This project will have important social and economic results in the transit countries, within the framework of environmental protection and sustainable development,” Arkab added.

However, the enthusiasm for the project in Algiers is scarcely mirrored in Abuja, which, according to