As Europe seeks to wean itself off Russian natural gas, Algeria, Niger, and Nigeria have revived a decades-old, multi-billion-dollar gas project.
The Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TSGP) could send up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Europe from Nigeria to Algeria and on to Europe. Analysts note the project faces many challenges.
Nigeria’s petroleum minister, Timipre Sylva, said funding for the project will come from Europe and that authorities are already holding talks with European firms and countries.
Sylva said a committee set up by the countries was already conducting a feasibility study to build a 4,128-kilometer-long gas pipeline from southern Nigeria to Algeria via Niger.
The landmark decision to revive the project followed a two-day joint meeting held in Abuja last week by petroleum authorities from the three African nations.
The committee will meet at the end of July.
Revival of the project was lauded by the African Energy Chamber, a group that promotes cross-border cooperation in the continent’s energy industry.
More praise comes from Abuja-based energy expert Emmanuel Afiami.
"It actually shows that Africa is trying as much as possible to position itself to possibly see how well they can help Europe cover the energy demand issues," Afiami said. "Beyond this, this particular project will actually mean a lot for the three African countries involved, the benefits to local economies."
The initiative was initially conceived more than 40 years ago but renewed interest comes amid Russia's war on Ukraine and efforts by Europe to slash Russia'a energy income.
African energy experts like Afiami say that with demand for natural gas rising, the TSGP project could transform Africa's energy future if properly implemented.
Public finance analyst Isaac Botti said political will has been a challenge and still can be.
"For me I think the major challenge is the political will of these countries to embark on this huge deal," Botti said. "For example, the pipeline project between Nigeria and Ghana which has also been stalled over time was as a result of political will, not unavailability of resources to do that. Part of the problem is also that we are too reliant on easy money."
In April, EU delegates met with Nigerian officials in Abuja and held talks about diversifying Europe's sources of energy.
Earlier in June, Nigerian authorities directed state-run oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to implement a deal on a gas pipeline to Europe through Morocco.
Authorities are also planning to transport more gas from southern to northern Nigeria and build a major gas turbine in Abuja.
Source: Voice of America