African nations sign deal for trans-Saharan gas pipeline
July 20, 2009
Nigeria''s state oil company said Nigeria, Algeria and Niger signed an agreement to create a $10 billion trans-Saharan gas pipeline to ship gas to Europe, reported by the Wall Street Journal. The managing director, Mohammed Barkindo, said energy ministers from the three governments have approved the project. Nigeria''s energy minister, Rilwanu Lukman, said the countries are now looking for partners for the project. Europe currently depends on Russia for much of its gas and is seeking new sources and routes, and the European Union recently lent its support to the project. Total SA and Eni SpA have expressed interest in joining the trans-Saharan pipeline project. Recently, Russia''s state natural gas supplier Gazprom and Nigeria''s main oil company agreed to create a joint venture to explore and produce oil and gas in Africa''s most populous country. Gazprom''s chief in Nigeria has said the Russian firm would invest $2.5 billion in the new venture. If Gazprom gains control over Nigeria''s gas resources, that could strip European consumers of a possible alternative to Russian gas supplies. It has been a difficult time for Gazprom as production is declining and the severe financial crisis is forcing it to delay the launch of major new gas fields that would supply Europe with energy.