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May 5, 2022
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Here is such a “squiggle”: Instead of Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline to Nigeria?

Here is such a "squiggle": Instead of Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline to Nigeria?

Photo: dpa/pick-alliance/TASS

Recently the Minister of Petroleum Resources of Nigeria Timpire Silva admitted that some people, including from Russia, frequented his office. They promised to give money, or rather, to invest it in the construction of a gas pipeline that could connect this country in the center of Africa and Morocco in the north of the Black Continent with the countries of Europe. All this happened just last week – visitors want to invest in an African project. Moreover, according to the minister, there are many who want it, not only Russians.

The EU authorities also announced that they are going to cooperate with Africa to reduce dependence on energy supplies from Russia. They plan to reduce energy dependence on our pipe by two thirds this year. Nigeria, Senegal and Angola have natural gas reserves, so the European Commission has scheduled emergency talks with them. The Europeans plan to do without building a pipeline by purchasing liquefied natural gas (LNG).

But Nigeria and the North African state of Morocco long ago, in 2016, signed an agreement specifically on the gas pipeline. In addition to these two countries, a pipe with a length of 5,660 km will connect some other states, RIA Novosti writes.

Political scientist Alexey Anpilogov believes that natural conditions are not the main thing in the construction of the pipeline:

— Pipelines were built in more difficult conditions, it is enough to recall our Russian gas pipelines built in a very harsh climate. As for Africa, the construction there will be more influenced by politics than climate or ecology. Indeed, in the Sahara desert there are not so many valuable species of animals or plants that need to be urgently protected.

I will give an example of a gas pipeline from Algeria, which is now simply stopped like Nord Stream 2. There are border disputes and political differences between Algeria and Morocco. Therefore, Algeria now supplies only liquefied natural gas, and Algerian gas does not go through the gas pipeline to Spain through Morocco and Gibraltar.

This political factor will always hang like a sword of Damocles over any African project. After all, European countries support their neo-colonial regime in Africa. It has been like this since the days of ancient Rome – “divide and rule.” Now it is boomeranging for them – they need to coordinate investment projects with a lot of parties. Not even just states and countries, but also with different tribes living in these countries. Former colonizers in every possible way fomented tribalism – tribal strife. And this is now the main factor of uncertainty.

“SP”: – It is reported that the length of the gas pipeline will be the longest in the world – 5600 km. But the distance between Nigeria and Morocco in a straight line is only four thousand kilometers, and if you add one and a half thousand kilometers, then the end of the pipeline can run straight into Paris. Perhaps the gas pipe will pass in an arc, and then it will be able to supply gas along the way to a dozen, if not more, different African countries, such as Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso? Route already defined?

— Most likely, the gas pipeline will be laid along the coast. The Sahara desert is located in a straight line, and the conditions there are quite difficult, plus the future gas pipeline needs to be serviced somehow. Let me remind you that gas is pumped through the gas pipeline by turbines, and at high temperatures they work worse, they need to be cooled. But this is all, as practice shows, technical problems that can be solved.

Here we can also recall the long-suffering TAPI – the planned main gas pipeline with a length of 1735 km from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Its design capacity was 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The estimated cost is $ 8-10 billion. The project was planned to be launched in 2017, but was postponed. It would seem that everything coincides: India and Pakistan need gas, but the zone of instability in Afghanistan is in the way. Africa, too, is a continuous zone of instability.

I repeat, Great Britain, France, Italy are guilty of this state of affairs, which considered Africa as a lost colony, where it is possible to continue the non-equivalent exchange of “glass beads” for fertile land and natural resources. They supported political instability in every possible way, they needed weak, not strong states. And they got what they got.

After all, there was already a grandiose project of solar power plants in the Sahara – it also ended in almost nothing. Europeans, having come to the African continent, were convinced of the results of their own short-sighted policy …

“SP”: – Why are negotiations now going on with Nigeria?

Nigeria is the largest African country in terms of population. More than 210 million people live in this former British colony. Since 1960, the country has been independent and has the right to dispose of its natural resources.

According to the minister, the gas pipeline should deliver blue fuel “through many African countries to the very edge of the continent.” And then enter the European market. There is a whole year to prepare the project until the term of the current president of Nigeria expires Muhammad Bukhari.

Nigeria is quite rich in hydrocarbons, its share among the world’s gas reserves was about three percent. According to OPEC, it ranks fourth among the members of the organization in terms of proven gas reserves – 5.7 billion cubic meters. But at the same time, very little electricity is produced here, and the local industry is not competitive.

So far, the longest pipeline is the Druzhba oil pipeline, 5,500 km long. It starts in Samara and passes through Belarus, Poland, Germany, Lithuania and Latvia in the north and Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia in the south. “Friendship” is long gone, but the name remains. Maybe it’s time to be friends with Africa?

Director of the Energy Development Fund Sergey Pikin believes that gas pipelines these days are a very dangerous story in terms of future sales:

– The gas pipeline is always a binding to the buyer. Today there is a buyer – everything is wonderful. Tomorrow he begins to “twist his arms” or introduces sanctions, like Europe. And that’s it! Where will you send this gas? So the most correct sales technology is liquefied natural gas. Its deliveries are not tied to a certain location. Buyers, for the most part, have terminals for receiving liquefied gas, or they can build them, or even rent them. There are also floating terminals.

Building pipelines without a clear confidence that nothing will happen in 10-20-30 years in the current situation is not easy. So, most likely, this is news from the African minister, Mr. Silva – from the category of promoting.

“SP”: – But in western Africa there are about a dozen different African countries. They will need gas. Perhaps things will not reach Europe, but securing part of Africa is also a good thing.

— A regional project is possible. There is an African gas supplier and there are consumers. We have already planned to build a gas pipeline inside Pakistan, it was supposed to connect the north and south of the country. And we are able to help Africa build its gas pipeline. But the intercontinental project, I repeat, is fraught with great risks.

“SP”: – An indirect sign of the seriousness of intentions is that it was rumored that PMC “Wagner” was operating in neighboring Mali. Perhaps something interesting will be born in the region as a result?

— It is difficult to predict something. After all, even the movement of raw materials, materials, money is a big question. Next in line is a ban on the movement of ships. How to do it in conditions of such trade restrictions? It will be more and more difficult to develop foreign projects.

“SP”: – Isn’t it better in this case to look less at Africa, in the illusory hope of “welding” on this deal, and aim at Southeast Asia – pull a pipe from Yamal there? To build a main gas pipeline from the Yamal fields to the Pacific coast, and then LNG terminals? And it would not hurt to create new geochemical plants.

— It is better to develop our own gas liquefaction technologies. Although it’s still hard for them. LNG projects are currently stalled due to the lack of technologies that have fallen under Western sanctions. We are not provided with them one hundred percent. First, we need to eliminate this weak point, then develop the LNG direction. We have been moving towards this and are continuing to do so.

Our strategy includes a multiple increase in the number of gas liquefaction plants. Now we must try to do it on our own. After all, liquefied gas is like oil: it can be sent to Asia, it can be sent to Latin America, or it can be resold through third parties to Europe. But it is not so with pipelines – today there is a consumer, but tomorrow he closed the gate and hung a barn lock on it.

“SP”: – So, like in America, we have liquefied gas on the agenda? Will we catch up and overtake?

– This trend has been outlined for more than a year. And we are moving towards this. It just takes time, investment, technology and equipment.

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