BY MADUABUCHI EFEGADI
Nigeria and Morocco appear set to finally begin developing a 7,000 km long offshore gas pipeline that would carry gas from the gas-awash West African nation to the North African economic giant with a GDP of over $119.04 billion.
The project, which cost was not immediately disclosed, but Tolu Ogunlesi, a media aide in the Presidency, said in his Twitter handle that, it is a fulfilment of a June 2018 agreement signed between the two countries during President Muhammadu Buhari’s state visit to Morocco.
“Nigeria and Morocco are teaming together to build the longest offshore pipeline in the world and second-longest pipeline in the world. It will carry gas from Nigeria to Morocco, running across 11 West African countries. The agreement for the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline was originally signed by the two countries when President Muhammadu Buhari paid a state visit to Morocco in June 2018,” Ogunlesi said.
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The offshore gas pipeline project would operate as a partnership energy company between the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and ONHYM of Morocco.
“When completed, the over 7,000 km long gas pipeline will link Nigeria with Morocco via 11 West African countries, and extend to Europe. It will be the longest offshore pipeline in the world and the second-longest pipeline overall,” the presidential aide said.
Meanwhile, the minister of state for petroleum, Timipre Sylva, said the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline may not be completed under the Buhari administration, but indicated that the outgoing government would lay the groundwork for subsequent administrations to complete the project.
Sylva informed that the incoming Nigeria-Morocco offshore gas pipeline is a continuation of the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) project, which has already reached Ghana.
“It is already operational, connecting Nigeria to the Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana. We want to continue that same pipeline all the way to Morocco,” the minister stated.
Nigeria is awash with natural gas, but the African top oil producer has yet to develop a credible gas utilisation infrastructure that would transform its proven 123 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas into a profitable business.
Till date, the country still flares some eight billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas every year, a significant volume worth over $2.5 billion, according to Celestine Akpobari, an environmentalist and national coordinator of Ogoni Solidarity Forum–Nigeria. He said the volume of gas flared annually constitutes a significant proportion of Nigeria’s total gas production.
Morocco, Africa’s fifth largest economy with a GDP of $119.04 billion, on the other hand, operates a diverse and steady economy with growth in a variety of sectors during the last decade. It is Africa’s second richest non-oil producing nation, with mining and manufacturing constituting the country’s economic mainstays. Industry accounts for 30 percent of Morocco’s GDP, agriculture accounts for 15 percent, while services account for 55 percent.
With a burgeoning tourism industry where residents embrace the government’s emphasis on recruiting workers who would take visitors to the country’s well-known tourist sites. Additionally, Morocco is the world’s third biggest producer of phosphorus, relying primarily on agriculture. The country had reaped significantly from its diverse exports such as electrical equipment, autos and vehicle parts. Among other things, the country’s telecom and textile industries contribute significantly to the country’s GDP.
However, the country had its growth stifled due to internal issues. Real GDP grew only 2.7 percent, falling in 2019 short of the World Bank’s forecast of 2.9 percent.