Export gas in Europe. The Algeria-Morocco race starts from Nigeria

A new episode of the competition between Morocco and Algeria to export gas in Europe, while the two sides try to win agreements to complete the project aimed at laying gas pipelines from Africa to the north.

The Moroccan project aims at the construction of a gas pipeline that extends for 6 thousand kilometers, from Nigeria, crossing 11 countries along the Atlantic coast, before reaching the Moroccan territory and transferring it in Spain. On the other hand, Algeria is trying to relaunch a project that dates back decades, connecting it to Nigerian gas fields across Niger, along a length of 4 thousand kilometers.

In the wake of the global energy crisis, in recent months there have been rapid developments in the practice that links Europe to African gas, with the recording of broad political and diplomatic dynamics of the two countries, the most evident features of which have appeared in the two neighbors. signing of a series of agreements with the Nigerian side and the rest of the countries concerned, and officials of the two countries issuing statements highlighting the feasibility and importance of each project.

Morocco and West Africa

In his latest speech in on the occasion of the anniversary of the “Green March”, the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, dedicated a lot of space to the speech of the Moroccan-Nigerian gas pipeline project, defining it as strategic.

King Mohammed VI considered the Moroccan-Nigerian pipeline a “project of paceAfrican economic integration and common development “, adding:” We want it as a strategic project for the benefit of the entire West African region, which has a population of more than 440 million people. “

The Nigerian-Moroccan gas pipeline project, with a length of 6,000 km, will cut Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania, up to Morocco.

The project, which has not yet set a timetable for completion, will allow to carry in Morocco over 5,000 billion cubic meters of natural gas, before being directly connected to the Morocco-Europe (GME) gas pipeline and the European gas network.

The gas pipeline project between Nigeria and Morocco was announced at the end of 2016. Last September, representatives of Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Mauritania signed two memoranda of understanding in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott.

And the Agency for the Arabs of the Maghreb has published a joint statement, underlining that the two memorandums “confirm the commitment of the parties to this strategic project, which, once completed, will supply gas to all African countries. western, and will open a new, alternative route for export to Europe “.

Morocco and the Nigerian government also signed another Memorandum of Understanding with the Economic Community of West African States (CEDIAO) in Rabat, after announcing the progress of studies on the project in June.

Trans-Desert Tube

A day before the Moroccan monarch’s speech, Algeria, which is a major producer and supplier of oil and gas, and has two export lines to Italy and Spain, confirmed its commitment with Nigeria to achieve structural projects launched jointly, including the trans-Saharan gas pipeline, during the meeting that brought together my foreign ministers on Saturday. The two countries.

This confirmation comes after the Algerian, Nigerian and Nigerian energy ministers signed a memorandum of understanding for the implementation of the trans-Saharan gas pipeline project, on the sidelines of the third ministerial meeting on the gas pipeline project.

The signatories to the memorandum have agreed to complete one studio of feasibility and to deepen the studies to complete the Algerian-Nigerian gas pipeline project, which starts from Abuja, passes through Niamey, and from there in Algeria in export view in Europe.

The idea of ​​building a trans-Saharan gas pipeline dates back to the 1970s, before a memorandum of understanding was signed in 2002, but the project has not been officially launched until today.

The length of the Nigerian-Algerian gas pipeline, known as the “Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline”, is approximately 4,128 km, with an annual capacity of 30 billion cubic meters, while the cost of its completion is estimated. in about $ 13 billion, according to Reuters.

Nigeria … the biggest beneficiary

Nigeria, which has signed agreements with the two Maghreb countries, will be the main beneficiary of the two projects, in how much it has the largest proven gas reserves in Africa with around 200 trillion cubic meters, most of which are unexploited.

The Nigerian government wants to monetize this resource more to replace crude oil, which is the country’s main commodity, and whose production is in sharp decline, due to massive pipeline theft and underinvestment in the field, according to Bloomberg.

Nigeria’s Oil Resources Minister Timber Silva revealed to Bloomberg that his country has proven gas reserves of 206 trillion cubic feet.

Nigeria, which currently produces 8 billion cubic feet of gas per day, aspires to increase its production to 12.2 billion cubic feet, and with it increase its exports to Europe, as the old continent seeks to place an end to its dependence on Russian supplies.

In the same dialogue, Silva referred to his country’s work to extend the pipelines in Europe through Morocco and Algeria, saying: “During this decade, we focus on the development of gas resources and much of it will go in Europe. We are building a gas pipeline that extends to Europe through Algeria, and we are in collaboration with Algeria. “To build a gas pipeline that will transport our gas directly in Europe, and we have another plan with Morocco to build another pipeline that will transport Nigerian gas to mainland Europe.

The spokesperson said: “We have completed around 70% of the line that will transport gas from southern Nigeria to its north, and after the completion of this local project, we will be ready to move it out of the country. in Niger, and then through in Algeria “.

As for the Moroccan line, Silva pointed out that it still is in phase of studio economic feasibility and said: “We are working hard on it and it will go through 15 African countries, and we will transport gas through it to Morocco, and from there directly in Europe”.

“Algerian Jamming”

Professor of the Institute of African Studies in Rabat, Moussaoui Ajlaoui, believes that if the two projects are successful together, it is positive, especially in light of the current global conditions, but it is a number of security, economic and strategic reasons that make the Moroccan-Nigerian pipeline “more important for Europe and the African continent than its counterpart”. Algerian “, as he described it.

In a statement to the Al-Hurra canal, Al-Moussawi points out that the Nigeria-Niger-Algeria line project has a lower distance and material cost than the link project in Morocco, but “major security challenges face the Sahel region and the dangers in the Sahara, which is one of the biggest and least secure points of tension in the world”.

The speaker himself indicates that the security documents relating to the Nigerian-Algerian project will not facilitate its completion at all. In light of the lack of security in northern Nigeria; With the spread of elements of Boko Haram and transnational criminal gangs, he added that thearea through which the project will pass in Niger, near western Niamey, is also known for the spread of ISIS agents.

On the other hand, the Moroccan expert underlines that the Moroccan-Nigerian project offers a valid alternative for European countries looking to West Africa, as a strategic alternative to Russian gas, in addition to what he considered the importance and opportunities it will provide. for the 11 countries through which the pipeline will pass, in how much it will contribute to stabilizing political systems and development, economic and social states.

The spokesperson criticizes what he describes as the Algerian “disruption” of the Moroccan project, adding that Algeria has signed memoranda of understanding and agreements with Nigeria since 2002, but without any progress, and has begun to reintroduce the project. in concomitant with Morocco to work on a similar project, and explained that the Algerian regime “does not want this project to see the light, because it will create a new geopolitical field called North-West Africa, which will connect Europe with Morocco with 11 countries of West Africa.

“project competition”

For his part, the economic affairs expert, Boubacar Salami, believed that the competition between the two countries is “legitimate and justified, because every country in the world tries to build partnerships with other countries for the benefit of its economy, but underlines the need that tale competition falls within the “limits of mutual respect” of international standards and conventions.

In his statement to the site web of Al-Hurra, the Algerian expert points out that the nature of the “tense” relationship between Algeria and Morocco is what has given this problem a volume greater than its size, indicating that Algeria, like any country, wishes to build a strong economy and a strategic energy partnership in the context of international competition in particular, which stands out that Morocco should be a gas-producing country that has the infrastructure and experience in operating gas facilities, he said.

The speaker himself refuses to view Algerian efforts as a desire to “cut the road to Morocco”, noting that the issue falls within the framework of Algeria’s economic interests and not cutting off one side or the other, explaining that if the two lines can be established, there is no objection to that as long as Nigeria agrees.

The spokesman explained that Morocco’s effort to carry out the project with the participation of 11 countries, “is a difficult and difficult issue, both in terms of negotiation and cost, because each country through which the pipeline passes will have the right to passage, which will increase the cost of the production cost price and consequently the high selling price, which makes the project lose value. ” In his opinion.

The criminal expert continues that Morocco must prove the effectiveness of the project by studying its feasibility and economic, security and geopolitical effects, and reaching agreements.

In the same context, Salami hints that a political problem will have to address the implementation of the project in Morocco, which is “the desert lands and their maritime space”, explaining that even if it manages to guarantee the passage, the European countries will not be satisfied with the purchase of gas that passes on disputed lands until a solution is found within the framework of the United Nations.