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Brussels, 9 July 2007

Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline conference: future possibilities for diversification of EU energy supply

European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs participated as a keynote speaker at a conference on the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline project which could supply gas from Nigeria to Europe through Niger and Algeria. In his speech, Commissioner Piebalgs emphasized the importance of energy cooperation through the existing Euromed framework and the forthcoming EU-Africa Energy Partnership and underlined that the diversification of suppliers and routes is a key part of the EU's strategy for the security of energy supply.

“The Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline could constitute a promising supply source and route for the EU. In this context, the available proven gas reserves, the feasibility of the project, its economic viability and the geopolitical developments in the region need to be clearly assessed. Today's conference should help provide us with some preliminary answers to those questions", declared Mr Piebalgs.

The 4300 km long Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline's departure terminal would be Brass in the Niger delta and its arrival terminal could be either Beni Saf or El Kala in Algeria. The pipeline's capacity should reach up to 30 billion cubic meters starting by 2015.

The Conference presenting the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline was initiated by the Algerian Minister of Energy and Mining, Mr Khelil, Sonatrach and the Nigerian Ministry of Energy. Its main purpose was to present the pipeline project, discuss its feasibility and attract potential investors.

EU access to Nigerian gas reserves is particularly crucial since European gas consumption and gas imports will increase significantly in the future. An increase in demand for natural gas and declining domestic production will result in a significant growth of import dependency. Consequently, natural gas imports may reach 85% of EU gas consumption by 2030 compared to 50% in 2000. This raises significant concerns about the EU's long-term security of supply. This is particularly the case given the growing dependency upon gas imports originating from a limited number of supplier nations, combined with the need for long distance transport infrastructures.

Nigerian gas reserves are estimated at 5 trillion cubic meters – equal to roughly 10 years of consumption of the EU - most of which are currently dedicated to liquefied natural gas (LNG) schemes. These are being expanded continuously due to growing transatlantic demand. Moreover, the West African Gas Pipeline project (WAGP), signed by Togo, Benin, Ghana and Nigeria, as well as the gas supply to Equatorial Guinea are ambitious projects supplying the larger West Africa region. The available Nigerian gas reserves therefore need to be carefully assessed, taking into consideration not only the current and future LNG needs, but also the West African Gas Pipeline supply needs and local gas demand.

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