Studies under way on the trans-Saharan gas pipeline link to Nigeria via Niger will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2006, with tenders expected to be issued soon after, Mohamed Meziane, head of state energy company Sonatrach, told MEED in early December.

‘The study will be completed in February-March,’ said Meziane. ‘We are confident that it will confirm our conviction that it is a good project both for Algeria and Nigeria, and will enable us to move forward with the tender process. International oil companies are interested, Nigeria is interested and banks are interested – we believe it is a good project.’

The 4,300-kilometre pipeline, which will link Warri in northern Nigeria and Beni Saf in northwest Algeria, is intended to reduce gas flaring in Nigeria by the equivalent of 250,000 barrels a day of gas and contribute to Algiers’ plans to increase gas exports to Europe, Meziane said. The project will also provide gas for the north of Nigeria, where there is currently no gas supply infrastructure, enable further exploration and production in Niger and increase the potential for gas supply in the south of Algeria.

‘There is a ready-made trans-Saharan market for the project, and it will enable us to respond to increasing European demand for gas, which is set to reach 240,000 million-250,000 million cubic metres a year [cm/y] by 2015,’ Meziane said.

A consortium of the UK’s Penspen, IPA Consulting and NKUK, the UK subsidiary of Nippon Koei, was awarded the $2 million contract to assess the feasibility of the pipeline in May. The client is a consortium of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Sonatrach. Algeria aims to increase its gas exports by 87 per cent to 85,000 million cm/y by 2010 (MEED 16:12:05, Cover Story; 13:5:05).