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Nigeria, Three Other Countries Sign Additional MoU on $25bn Gas Pipeline
*Tompolo’s security firm uncovers another illegal pipeline for crude oil export
Ejiofor Alike in Lagos, Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja and Sylvester Idowu in Warri
As Europe continues to mount pressure on Nigeria to provide alternative gas supply to the continent, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) yesterday signed four additional Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) on the execution of the 5,600-kilometre Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP).
This is coming as the renewed war by the federal government against crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism has recorded another major success as Tantita Security Services, operated by the ex-leader of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, has uncovered another illegal pipeline used by oil thieves to siphon crude oil for export in Delta State.
The proposed $25 billion gas pipeline is expected to link Nigeria and Morocco, opening a possibility for a new energy supply path for West Africa and Europe.
THISDAY learnt that the pipeline would be an extension of the existing West African Gas Pipeline, which runs from Lagos to Cotonou, Benin; Lomé, Togo; and Tema and Takoradi in Ghana.
The Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline would additionally connect Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire; Monrovia in Liberia; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Conakry, Guinea; Bissau, Guinea-Bissau; Banjul, Gambia; Dakar, Senegal; Nouakchott, Mauritania and Tangiers, Morocco with possible extension to Europe through Cádiz in Spain.
First proposed in 2016, the pipeline’s feasibility study was completed by Morocco in January 2019 and a proposal was presented at a special meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) thereafter.
In May 2022, THISDAY reported that the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund for International Development announced a contribution of $14.3 million to fund the implementation of the second phase of the pipelines’ FEED (Front-end Engineering Design) study.
Upon completion, the gas pipeline will be the world’s longest offshore pipeline and second longest pipeline overall.
In a statement issued last night, the NNPC stated that the new agreements were in furtherance of the understanding the participating countries had on September 15.
“Earlier today in Nouakchott, Mauritania, NNPC Limited, Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (ONHYM) of Morocco, PETROSEN of Senegal and SMH of Mauritania signed four MoU, in furtherance of the implementation of the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline Project (NMGP).
“Signing the legal documents were the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, Mallam Mele Kyari; Director General, ONHYM of Morocco, Ms Amina Benkhadra; General Manager, PETROSEN Holdings of Senegal, Adama Djallo; and Director General, SMH of Mauritania, Tourad Abdoul Baghi,” the statement stated.
In his remarks at the event, Kyari said the integration of West African economies through the NMGP was critical for the region’s economic growth, adding that NNPC was committed to converting the project into functional value for all transit nations.
“We know that this is a very critical step that we have to take in terms of integration of activities within Africa so that value can come to our people and ultimately prosperity will continue in the African region.
“The Nigeria trans-Morocco pipeline is one of the critical decisions we need to take to foster that integration and economic value and it will pass through several countries and I can confirm that ECOWAS has endorsed this project.
“So today’s meeting is in alignment with the national oil companies of Senegal, and Morocco so that we can proceed with this. We are happy this is happening and it is going to add value,” he stated.
Also speaking, DG ONHYM, Ms Benkhadra, said her organisation was committed to the integration of West African economies through the project, which she said will help cut down greenhouse emissions and meet Europe’s gas requirements.
“We are happy to be here with our brothers and we intend to make a success of this project to bring prosperity, integration, economic development, and sustainable energy to Africa because our people do not have sustainable energy,“ she explained.
On his part, the General Manager, PETROSEN Holdings, Djallo, thanked the Government of Mauritania for hosting the signing ceremony of the execution of the NNPC/ONHYM/Petrosen Tripartite MoU, adding that the Senegalese national oil company will work with all partners to make the cooperation successful.
Yesterday’s MoU signing was a follow-up to the MoU signed between NNPC, ONHYM of Morocco and the ECOWAS, on September 15, 2022, in Rabat, Morocco.
When completed, the NMGP project will supply about 3 billion standard cubic feet per day (scf/d) of gas along the West African Coast from Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania to Morocco.
The NNPC is also championing another transcontinental gas pipeline that would start from Nigeria to European markets through northern Algeria.
Tompolo’s Security Firm Uncovers another Illegal Pipeline for Crude Oil Export
Meanwhile, the war by the federal government against crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism has recorded another major success as Tantita Security Services, operated by the ex-leader of the defunct MEND, Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, has uncovered another illegal pipeline used by oil thieves to siphon crude oil for export in Delta State.
This latest development is coming barely one week after the security firm discovered the illegal four-kilometre crude oil pipeline connected from Forcados terminal to the sea, which had been in operation for nine years.
In the latest discovery, a pipeline measuring one kilometre to the shore and another four kilometres to the loading bay, which was abandoned by ExxonMobil at Ogulagha in Burutu Local Government Area of the state was allegedly reconnected by the oil thieves to load stolen crude oil into export tankers.
Speaking to journalists on the discovery yesterday, the Marine Intelligence Consultant to Tantita Security Services Limited, Captain Warredi Enisuo said the illegal pipeline was connected to the 48-inch Trans Forcados Export Trunkline.
Enisuo also conducted the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited’s General Manager in charge of the Gas Development Division, Mr. Buduwara Zakariya, who represented the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, Kyari and other officials around the scene of the incident.
Enisuo said: “The illegal pipeline was connected to another abandoned pipeline located within the vicinity which is owned by Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited.
“The perpetrators of this organised crime tapped into a Shell-operated 48-inch export line. So, the crude oil has been cleaned up and is ready for export. It is quite expensive. They tapped into it to siphon the crude oil.
“But technologically, they were able to connect their pipe underwater and we traced the line to the point where it was tapped,” he explained.
He noted that “though the oil field belonged to Agip, which has not been put into use for a long time, the oil thieves decided to export crude oil to a jacket by connecting theirs through a riser out into the jacket where they export the stolen crude oil.”
In his remarks, the Managing Director of Tantita Security Services Limited, Mr. Kestin Pondi, said a lot of resources were put into tracking the illegal pipeline.
He warned oil thieves to steer clear of Tantita Security Services’ area of responsibility, noting that the Chairman of the firm, Ekpemupolo has zero tolerance for the menace of crude oil theft.
Also speaking, the General Manager, of the Gas Development Division of NNPC, Zakariya commended Tantita Security Services and other stakeholders for a job well done.
He said Kyari’s decision to send a delegation to the scene was to inform Nigerians that NNPCL is working round the clock to curb the menace of crude oil theft.
“NNPCL has been facing challenges and with stakeholders, it’s time to bring stability to the host communities and they have been trying to secure all oil and gas facilities, especially the ones which have to do with crude evacuation line”, he added.
The latest discovery was said to be directly behind a military security post, which is less than one kilometre from the Forcados Export Terminal in the Ogulagha community.
Tantita Security Services Limited had last week discovered another illegal four-kilometre crude oil pipeline connected from Forcados terminal to the sea and operated for the past nine years.
The Tompolo-backed security firm had only last week apprehended a vessel named ‘MT DEIMA with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number: 7210525 while loading crude oil illegally along the Escravos river in Delta State.
The arrested vessel which was handed over to officials of the Joint Task Force (JTF) code-named ‘Operation Delta Safe’ was eventually set ablaze by the military officials 48 hours after the arrest.