Niger coup could be a threat to Nigeria’s Trans-Saharan gas pipeline – Report

The Niger coup which occurred on July 26 could present a threat to Nigeria’s planned Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline. This is according to a report from S&P Global Commodity Insights.

The report suggests that the Niger coup as well as funding challenges of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas is threatening to dash the Trans-Saharan gas pipeline.

S&P noted:

  • “The $13 billion, 4,128 km pipeline stretching from Warri in southern Nigeria through Niger to Algeria’s Hassi R’Mel gas hub, on the cards since 2002, would carry 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas daily, according to a communique by the three countries last year.
  • “However, the plan risks collapsing altogether after a military coup in Niger in July saw Nigeria-led regional bloc ECOWAS threaten to deploy troops. Meanwhile, domestic infrastructure woes in Nigeria particularly on the faltering AKK pipeline have led many to question the viability of a project that aims to connect Africa’s biggest gas reserves with European countries looking to replace Russian hydrocarbons.”

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According to S&P, Aneliese Bernard, who serves as the director of Strategic Stabilization Advisors, a consultancy based in Washington DC, and brings with her a wealth of experience as a former State Department official, has pointed out that security experts are expressing concerns regarding the potential consequences of an Ecowas invasion.

They fear that such an intervention could ignite a surge of violence along the Nigeria-Niger border.

In this volatile region, local leaders have managed to maintain a delicate peace, and any disruption could exacerbate insecurity not only in the Chad Basin but also in the broader Sahel complex. It is worth noting that a significant portion of the Trans-Saharan pipeline’s $13 billion capital expenditure is slated for investment in Niger.

Currently, Niger’s oil production stands at a modest 20,000 barrels per day, with minimal gas output. However, Niger is on the verge of bringing the 110,000 barrels per day Chinese-built Niger-Benin oil pipeline online.

The Trans-Saharan pipeline has the potential to empower Niger to capitalize on its recoverable gas reserves, which are estimated at 34 billion cubic meters, as reported by Savannah Energy, the sole Western oil company active in the country.

Additionally, it could play a crucial role in combating the pervasive illicit fuel trade plaguing the region.

Bernard also highlighted a noteworthy aspect regarding Algeria’s involvement in mediating the Niger crisis. Mali and Burkina Faso, both of which are under military leadership, have pledged to assist Niger in the event of an Ecowas invasion.

This, coupled with the strategic significance of the Trans-Saharan pipeline, could shed light on Algeria’s keen interest in facilitating negotiations to resolve the situation in Niger.

She said:

  • “Algeria are throwing themselves into this. I think that is likely because of their investments and incentives to ensure that a pipeline continues to be developed.” 

NNPCL statement on the status of the Trans-Sahara and AKK Gas Pipelines

The proposed $13 billion Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline (TSGP) would pass from Nigeria through Niger and Algeria and will enable Nigerian gas exports to be competitive in Europe and be an alternative to other sources of natural gas as Europe seeks to end Russian reliance on gas.

In April 2023, Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited noted that the company was working assiduously to ensure timely delivery of major domestic gas pipeline infrastructure projects including the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline corridor and associated power plants.

He also noted that the NNPCL was making progress on the planned Nigeria-Morocco and the Trans-Sahara Gas Pipelines that will connect West African countries to deliver natural gas to the international markets.

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