Nigeria gas fuels Morocco, Algeria pipeline power struggle

Nigeria gas fuels Morocco, Algeria pipeline power struggle
The renewed momentum on competing new projects follows months of heightened tensions between Algeria and Morocco.
2 min read
The north African neighbours are in a race to supply Europe with gas [Getty images]

Adversaries Morocco and Algeria are each racing to build a conduit pumping Nigerian gas to European markets, even as the continent aims to wean itself off fossil fuels.

Both countries have moved to revive long-stalled projects in light of a gas supply crunch following Russia's invasion of Ukraine a year ago. Prices surged and Europe -- which was heavily reliant on Russian gas -- had to look elsewhere for energy.

Rabat is hoping the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline, which would skirt the coastlines of 13 West African countries, could pump billions of cubic metres of natural gas to the kingdom.

From there, the gas would flow through the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline (GME) into Spain and Portugal.

Nigeria's Oil Minister Timipre Sylva told AFP on Monday that a feasibility study was underway and some countries had already signed up to the project, but a start date has yet to be set.

To the east, Morocco's neighbour and arch-rival Algeria is pushing to relaunch plans for a Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline linking Nigeria to Algeria's Mediterranean coast via Niger.

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Last July, Algiers signed a memorandum of understanding with Abuja and Niamey to bring the 4,128-kilometre (2,565-mile) pipeline to fruition, at a cost of up to 18 billion euros ($19 billion).

From Algeria the gas could be pumped via the Mediterranean undersea Transmed pipeline to Italy through Tunisian territory, or loaded onto liquefied natural gas tankers for export.

The renewed momentum on both projects follows months of heightened tensions between Algeria and Morocco after the collapse of a decades-old ceasefire in the Western Sahara and Morocco's normalisation of ties with Israel in late 2020.

In August 2021 Algiers cut diplomatic links with Rabat altogether, accusing it of "hostile acts", which Morocco denies.

Later that year, Algeria declined to renew a 25-year deal to pump gas through Moroccan territory to Spain in exchange for gas that covered almost all of Morocco's needs.