Trans-Saharan gas pipeline
|Trans-Saharan gas pipeline|
Location of Trans-Saharan gas pipeline
|Country||Nigeria, Niger, Algeria|
|To||Hassi R'Mel, Algeria|
|Partners||Sonatrach, NNPC, Government of Niger|
|Length||4,128 km (2,565 mi)|
|Maximum discharge||30 billion cubic meters per year|
The Trans-Saharan gas pipeline (also known as NIGAL pipeline and Trans-African gas pipeline) is a planned natural gas pipeline from Nigeria to Algeria. It is seen as an opportunity to diversify the European Union's gas supplies.
The idea of the trans-Saharan pipeline was first proposed in the 1970s. On 14 January 2002, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Algerian national oil and gas company Sonatrach signed the Memorandum of Understanding for preparations of the project. In June 2005, NNPC and Sonatrach signed a contract with Penspen Limited for a feasibility study of the project. The feasibility study was completed in September 2006, and it found the pipeline to be technically and economically feasible and reliable.
On the meeting on 20 February 2009, NNPC and Sonatrach agreed to proceed with the draft Memorandum of Understanding between three governments and the joint venture agreement. The intergovernmental agreement on the pipeline was signed by energy ministers of Nigeria, Niger and Algeria on 3 July 2009 in Abuja.
Safety concerns about the operations have now been heightened due to the recent In Aménas hostage crisis. Analysts predict that the estimated price tag of the project will rise due to the incident. Nigeria, Niger and Algeria are among the least secure areas in the region because of various active terrorist movements that destabilise them.
The pipeline will start in the Warri region in Nigeria and run north through Niger to Hassi R'Mel in Algeria. In Hassi R'Mel the pipeline will connect to the existing Trans-Mediterranean, Maghreb–Europe, Medgaz and Galsi pipelines. These supply Europe from the gas transmission hubs at El Kala and Beni Saf on Algeria's Mediterranean coast. The length of the pipeline would be 4,128 kilometres (2,565 mi): 1,037 kilometres (644 mi) in Nigeria, 841 kilometres (523 mi) in Niger, and 2,310 kilometres (1,440 mi) in Algeria.
The annual capacity of the pipeline would be up to 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas. It would have a diameter of 48 to 56 inches (1,220 to 1,420 mm). The pipeline is expected to be operational by 2015. The investment for the pipeline will be around US$10 billion and for gas gathering centers around $3 billion. 
The pipeline is to be built and operated by the partnership between the NNPC and Sonatrach. The company would include also the Republic of Niger. Initially NNPC and Sonatrach would hold a total 90% of shares, while Niger would hold 10%.
Russian gas company Gazprom has negotiated with Nigeria about its possible participation in the project. Also Indian company GAIL, France's Total S.A., Italy's Eni SpA and Royal Dutch Shell have expressed interest in participating in the project. According to the Algerian energy minister Chakib Khelil "only partners that can bring something to the project, not just money, should be there." Energy ministers of Algeria and Nigeria have said that "if things go well, there will be no need to bring international oil companies into the project" and "if the need for partnership in the project arises, not every partner will be welcome on board on the project."
Opposition to the pipeline
The pipeline is opposed by the Nigerian militant group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. A spokesman for the group warned that until issues regarding the exploitation of the Niger Delta and its people have been resolved, "any money put into the project will go down the drain."
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