West Africa Breaks Ground on Major Pipeline Project

In the presence of the energy ministers of Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, and Togo, and with representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United States looking on, Ghana's President John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor recently broke ground on the $600-million West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP).

The 693-km pipeline will transport natural gas from the Niger Delta in Nigeria to provide clean, reliable fuel for power generation and industry in Benin, Togo, and Ghana. Availability of power is a key constraint in the development of these countries, and gas from WAGP is expected to have a major impact on economic growth in the region.

Over the past five years, Nexant -- the global petroleum, chemical, and energy consulting firm -- has provided a full range of advisory services and support on technical, economic, environmental and legal issues to the WAGP project, under sponsorship of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

During the groundbreaking ceremonies at Takoradi, Ghana, on December 3, the work of the Nexant team was commended by both the national energy ministers and by Dr. Frank Young, head of USAID's Africa Bureau. Describing Nexant's work as "world class," Young acknowledged Nexant's role as advisor to the governments of Togo, Benin, Nigeria, and Ghana via the ECOWAS organisation. Nexant's efforts were led by Alain Rosier, a senior consultant with the company's Petroleum and Chemicals division.

The pipeline's owners/developers are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, ChevronTexaco, Shell, the Volta River Authority of Ghana, Societe Togolaise de Gaz, and Societe Beninoise de Gaz. The project is also supported by The World Bank, which recently approved $125 million in partial risk guarantees. WAGP is the first pipeline in the world developed through the cooperation of four countries and is the first regional project developed under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).