Gas pipeline planned to cross occupied land

Morocco and Nigeria signed an agreement on the planned offshore gas pipeline between the two countries, projected to turn onshore in occupied Western Sahara.

28 September 2022

The illustration above is a WSRW reproduction of a map that appears in Moroccan media, originating from ONHYM.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Co. (NNPC) announced on 15 September 2022 that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Morocco’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Morocco's capital, Rabat. The memorandum allegedly commits the signatories to the feasibility of the gigantic Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP) project. As details begin to surface, it would appear that the gigantic pipeline will have its drop-off point not in Morocco, but in occupied Western Sahara.

The pipeline as currently envisioned would span around 5,300 km from Brass Island in Nigeria to its point of entry in “Morocco” at the town of Dakhla. Dakhla is however not located in Morocco, but in the part of Western Sahara that Morocco has illegally occupied since 1975. 

Moroccan and international media report that the offshore pipeline will run around 1,700 km from Dakhla northwards to be linked up to the Gazoduc Maghreb Europe (GME) in northern Morocco, until recently used to transport Algerian gas into Spain. Since November 2021, however, Algeria has stopped exporting gas to and through Morocco via the GME. Its decision not to renew the supply contract with Morocco is testimony of the escalating tensions between the two neighbouring countries - in part over Western Sahara.

In June this year, a representative of ONHYM, Imane Mansouri, indicated that “the Moroccan part of the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline has been named Dorsale Atlantique, and will be, as its name suggests, the backbone of the diesel infrastructure to be developed in Morocco”. She went on to explain that the Atlantic Dorsal will connect the GME gas pipeline to “the Dakhla region, the drop-off and arrival point of the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline”.

The GME runs from Hassi R'mel in north-west Algeria through the north-Moroccan Tangiers area to Spain. Connecting Dakhla in occupied Western Sahara to the GME up in northern Morocco, will be done in 6 phases, the ONHYM representative explained. 

The Nigeria-Morocco pipeline's total length will thus be over 7,000 km, making it one of the world's longest pipelines ever built. The 5,300-kilometer offshore conduit along West Africa’s coast would provide gas to at least 13 Member States of ECOWAS, which has also signed the agreement with ONHYM and NNPC. In addition, the signatories of the agreement express the wish of using the pipeline to transport gas to the European Union. 

Following Algeria's decision to end gas supplies via GME to and through Morocco from November 2021 onwards, Rabat has demonstrated an eagerness to secure more gas. The country is making efforts to sign longer term LNG (liquefied natural gas) deals and has started importing LNG via the GME link from Spain.

Feasibility and engineering studies funded by the Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Development Bank and the OPEC Fund for International Development are reportedly being carried out by Australian engineering company Worley Ltd. WSRW wrote Worley on 5 May and 22 September 2022, and OPEC on 15 December 2021 and 22 September 2022. Neither Worley nor OPEC have responded to the letters. 

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