Owner: Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); Moroccan Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (ONHYM);
Parent company: Governments of Nigeria and Morocco;
Capacity: 30 billion cubic metres per year;
Length: 5,660 kilometres;
Start year: 2046;
Cost: USD $25 billion.
The Nigeria-Morocco pipeline project timeline
With an approximate yearly deficit of gas production vs. consumption of 39 billion cubic feet, Morocco is in need of new ways to access this prime resource. In addition to this, Europe’s constant desire to become less dependent on Russian gas has led neighbouring African countries, such as Morocco, to assist European nations in such endeavor.
The Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline was proposed in a December 2016 agreement between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Moroccan Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (ONHYM).
In August 2017, NNPC and ONHYM began a feasibility study for the pipeline, which is estimated to cost USD $25 billion, and would be completed in stages over 25 years. Morocco is reportedly in talks with Nigeria to pursue this pipeline rather than the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline, arguing that the latter would have to pass through a region with significant militant activity.
NNPC and ONHYM completed the feasibility study for the construction of the pipeline in January of 2019. Following this, the 2 countries contracted with British Penspen to conduct the first phase of front-end engineering & design. In August 2019, NNPC and ONHYM presented the pipeline proposal at a special meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), where the Director of Energy and Mining of ECOWAS spoke positively of the project.
Moreover, according to Africa Intelligence, by March 2020 the front-end engineering & design had entered the second phase. In June 2021, there were reports that pipeline construction had begun, and in May 2022 it was reported that the project was in the initial technical design stage.
In May 2022, it was reported that the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) planned to contribute USD $14.3 million to fund the implementation of the second phase of the pipelines FEED (front-end engineering design) study, to thoroughly plan the project before cost and financing estimates could be finalized. Engineering company WorleyParsons was contracted to carry this out via its subsidiary Intecsea, based in the Netherlands. Project management consultancy services for front-end engineering and design of the second phase have been awarded to ILF Consulting Engineers and JV partner DORIS Engineering.
As expressed in a joint statement published in September 2022, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), on the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline project (NMGP) was signed by the leaders of the NNPC, ONHYM, and a senior official of ECOWAS in charge of energy. The signing of this MoU confirms the commitment of ECOWAS and all the countries involved to contribute to the feasibility of this important project.
Furthermore, the NMGP is being carried out in an important geopolitical context marked by strong international demand for oil and gas, as well as a surge in prices following the Russia-Ukraine-NATO crisis. This crisis has led many countries in Europe, and other parts of the world to reduce their dependence on Russian supplies and target other markets, including the African continent.
Connecting Western Africa
According to the MoU, the 5,660 kilometre Nigeria-Morocco project will cross 13 African countries along the Atlantic coast, and supply the landlocked states of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. The complete route of the NMGP begins in Lagos, Nigeria, and will then make its way through Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, and Mauritania, until it reaches the Moroccan port city of Tangier.
Moreover, the NMGP is expected to bring more than 5,000 billion cubic metres of natural gas (30 billion cubic metres per year) to Morocco, which will then be connected directly to the Maghreb Europe Gas Pipeline (GME) and the European gas network. Currently, Nigeria possesses Africa’s largest proven gas reserves, most of which is untapped, flared or reinjected into oil wells.
According to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria has proven gas deposits of 206.53 trillion cubic feet. Besides having the largest natural gas reserves on the continent, Nigeria is Africa’s third gas producer and the twelfth largest oil producer in the world; Nigeria’s oil sector comprises 20% of its GDP and 95% of foreign exchange earnings. The country’s biggest natural gas operator is the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Company.
In addition to the aforementioned, the Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and OFID have committed nearly USD $60 million to finance feasibility and engineering studies for what would be one of the longest pipelines ever built.
Upon completion, the gas pipeline will be the world’s longest offshore pipeline and second longest pipeline overall. Based on the 25-year estimate given in 2017, construction will be completed by 2046.
On 16-19 May 2023, Moroccan and international energy leaders will meet in Rabat at the Energy Week Summit & Exhibition, an IN-VR event that is fully endorsed by the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines of Morocco (ONHYM). One of the main topics to be discussed regarding promising oil and gas projects is the renowned Nigeria-Morocco pipeline project, and its future effect on the European energy market; the event will gather dozens of delegates representing Ministries, NOCs, IECs, service and technology companies, legal and consulting firms, among others, all eager to learn more about the project’s scope, and discuss possible ways they can participate in this prominent project in years to come.
During the first day of the event, a distinct roundtable regarding the Nigeria-Morocco pipeline project will take place, and will include distinguished figures such as H.E. Mme Amina Benkhadra, General Director at ONHYM, and C-level representatives from the Nigerian government.
In addition to this development, participants will also be able to examine Morocco’s most prolific hydrogen, solar, wind, and hydropower projects. These, in conjunction with the Nigeria-Morocco pipeline project, will further boost Morocco in both the regional and global energy stages.