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Forging ahead in Africa and the Med

Africa and the Mediterranean region are home to a rich supply of oil and gas reserves. Though this may be true, both regions have experienced resistance when it comes to midstream pipelines.

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Throughout 2016 and to the present day, Nigeria has been on the receiving end of pipeline attacks. These sabotages, primarily in the Niger Delta region, have largely been claimed by militant groups who believe that the area should receive a greater share of the oil wealth generated by the Niger Delta’s crude reserves.

As a result of these attacks, Nigeria’s crude production has dwindled drastically. However, Africa is not alone in bearing the brunt of this opposition to pipeline infrastructure.

In October 2016, the Tabriz-Ankara pipeline (otherwise known as the Iranian-Turkey pipeline) came under attack by protest groups. Turkey has often fallen prey to pipeline disruptions, primarily caused by the guerrilla organisation, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In a similar vein, in July 2016, resistance from Cyprus over the Turkey-Israel pipeline came to light. It was essential for Turkey to mend its ties with Cyprus before operations could begin, as the line would transport Israeli natural gas through Cypriot territory. However, despite some disruption, several new and ongoing projects are still in the pipeline.

The Trans Adriatic pipeline (TAP) is currently forging ahead. Rikard Scoufias, TAP Country Manager for Greece, stated that the pipeline is “on track” to continue gas deliveries by 2020. Approximately 75% of pipes have already been delivered for construction in Albania, where TAP has recently completed the first phase of road infrastructure rehabilitation.

Ian Bradshaw, Managing Director of the TAP consortium, noted: “Approximately 100 km of pipeline length has been welded, 30 km has been backfilled and 6 km has been reinstated […] So far, over 60% of the 32 000 line pipes that are needed to build the 550 km Greek section have been delivered.” TAP will connect to the Trans Anatolian pipeline (TANAP) at the Turkish-Greek border, where it will transport Caspian natural gas to Europe. The project aims to help meet Europe’s energy demand and reduce its dependence on Russia.

In early 2016, Uganda and Tanzania partnered to construct the East African crude oil pipeline (EACOP). The 1145 km line will transport crude from Uganda to Tanzania, where it will then travel to international markets.

Work on EACOP began in December 2016, and on 18 January, Gulf Interstate Engineering was awarded a contract for the design of the US$3.55 billion pipeline. Currently, Gulf expects its work to be completed in seven months, which will then allow for a contractor to be selected. The project is progressing at a steady pace.

One of the most topical projects launched in Africa and the Mediterranean is the Trans-African natural gas pipeline. In an attempt to strengthen the economy of West Africa, the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund and Morocco’s Ithmar Capital have announced they will develop the project. This means that Nigerian gas will be transported to Morocco before being delivered to its neighbouring European markets. During a recent summit, King Mohammed VI of Morocco highlighted that the pipeline will not only benefit the African gas producing countries, but the entirety of West Africa.

The pipeline will be approximately 4000 km and, as the project advances, a specific route will be determined soon. However, though currently undecided, the line is expected to pass along the West African coast. Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania and Western Sahara are just a few of the coastal countries that the pipeline could potentially pass through. Together with the other abovementioned projects, we can certainly expect to see more of this pipeline throughout 2017. To read more about these pipelines, as well as several other current midstream projects in Africa and the Mediterranean region, turn to the regional report on p.12.

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