Daily News  :: West Africa

'W African gas pipeline almost ready'

Published: 17-JAN-07

Abuja - A long-delayed West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) project that aims to supply Nigerian gas to Ghana, Togo and Benin should start working before end first quarter 2007, an official with the regional economic grouping Ecowas said on Tuesday.

"The pipeline will begin to operate this quarter. That is very certain," the official said, asking to remain anonymous.

The pipeline is the brainchild of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), founded in 1975 to promote economic co-operation and stability in the region.

The pipeline will run for 1 033km, both on and offshore from southern Nigeria's oil-producing region the Niger Delta, through Benin and Togo to terminate in Ghana.

The official was not immediately able to say what volume of gas the pipeline would transport.

The presidents of three out of the four countries involved in the WAGP project, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, met briefly on Tuesday in Nigeria's federal capital Abuja where they examined a pipeline progress report on the sidelines of their meeting, a reporter in the capital said.

Ghana was not represented at this meeting.

However, the Ecowas official said Ghana remained as committed as ever to the project.

"Ghana will use the gas both for electricity and for its industrial sector", he said.

Supporters of the pipeline say it will mean oil companies in Nigeria flare less gas. Environmentalists say that flaring, the burning of unuseable waste gas, stunts crop growth and reduces harvests. It also contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

Worldwide, Nigeria is the country that accounts for the most flaring.

The WAGP project was first mooted in 1982 and the first feasibility study was carried out ten years later. The legal framework for the pipeline was laid in 2000 and the project had been supposed to come online in June 2005.

Initially, the WAGP was to have terminated in Senegal, but this project was shelved owing to recent political instability in several countries that lay on the pipeline's path, notably Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Sapa-AFP

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