Bid to resurrect Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TSGP) is likely to fail

Sahara

Published on Saturday, 26 February 2022 Back to articles

Route of proposed Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TSGP)

With Europe’s gas supplies coming increasingly under the spotlight because of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, it was almost inevitably only a matter of time before an umpteenth attempt to resurrect the pipedream of the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TSGP) made a return bid. Perhaps the only thing that is surprising about this latest attempt has come from Niger. 

The Niamey Declaration calling for the relaunch of the TSGP project was signed in Niamey on 15 February by the respective oil ministers of Niger, Algeria and Nigeria: Mahamane Sani Mahamadou, Mohamed Arkab and Timipre Sylva. Officially, it is Niger that has pushed for the creation of a task force to ensure that the pipeline project, first mooted some 20 years ago, is put back on track. The pipeline would take surplus gas from Warri in the Niger Delta north to Kano — where there could be some offtake to power industry in northern Nigeria — before crossing into Niger and on to Algeria’s gas hub at Hassi R’mel, with its second phase supplying Europe.

This announcement — made on the sidelines of the third ECOWAS Mining and Petroleum Forum (ECOMOF 2022) — has been heavily promoted by Algeria for political reasons. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune does not want to leave the field open to a competing gas pipeline that is being promoted by neighbouring Morocco with whom it severed all diplomatic relations in August 2021. This competing largely offshore pipeline, which would go west from Warri to Morocco via a dozen West African countries, will also eventually supply Europe with gas.

Both pipelines hinge on the availability of the Niger Delta’s gigantic gas reserves but the region’s politicians and often affiliated militant groups have long demanded a fairer share of the country’s oil revenues. Over the years the government has tried to buy off the militants in an attempt to end or reduce militancy, sabotage and largescale oil theft. Meanwhile the separatism in Nigeria’s Southeast; the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast; and rampant criminal banditry in the Northwest are all likely to make progress very slow in Nigeria before the TSGP even encounters the jihadists in the Sahel. It is almost inconceivable, under these conditions, that state and private sector investors would embark on the construction of a US$10-US$20 billion infrastructure project that has no guarantee of a reliable supply of gas.

There is also the tricky political issue facing Nigeria’s decision-makers as to how they can make a case to export more than 30 BCM a year of gas to Europe when the majority of the country’s population does not yet have access to electricity. The attempt to supply West Africa via the Chevron-operated offshore West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) to Ghana has failed because, 14 years after its launch, Ghana still does not receive the volume it originally contracted with Nigeria.

When the TGSP was first mooted it was under the mandates of the powerful and ambitious Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo and Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Things have changed since then because the current presidents — the outgoing Muhammadu Buhari and the beleaguered Abdelmadjid Tebboune — do not have the same political influence as their predecessors and both are presiding over economies that are in crisis. The Niamey Declaration will therefore do little more than fill a few more newspaper columns.

This excerpt is taken from Sahara Focus, our monthly intelligence report on the Sahara region. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

The February 2022 issue of Sahara Focus also includes the following:

French withdrawal from Mali

  • France announces military withdrawal from Mali with major implications
  • Implications

Sahel

  • Sahel faces ‘horrendous food crisis’
  • Bid to resurrect Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TSGP) is likely to fail.

Mali

  • Parliamentary vote allows military to rule for five years…
  • Mali’s race to become an African lithium producer

Niger

  • CNPC resumes work on oil export pipeline…
  • 18 civilians killed in the Tillabéri region…

Chad

  • National Dialogue postponed as Déby holds secret talks with rebels
  • Chad is Savannah Energy’s next target

Mauritania

  • Opposition denounces postponement to National Dialogue 
  • Seven dead as northwest gold mine collapses 
  • Trade deal signed with Mali 

Burkina Faso

  • Lt-Col Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba inaugurated as new president 
  • French army kill 40 jihadists
  • 63 killed in gold mine explosion

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