Four West African Nations Sign Pipeline Treaty

The leaders of four West African countries - Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Togo, have signed a treaty paving the way for the construction of a $500 million pipeline to transport natural gas from Nigeria. ChevronTexaco is the operator of the pipeline and holds a 36.7 percent stake. First gas deliveries are expected to Ghana in mid-2005.

550-mile pipeline will route 375 million standard cubic feet daily of gas produced with oil in Nigeria's Niger Delta region to Benin, Ghana and Togo. The treaty was signed in Senegal during the ECOWAS summit.

The pipeline is expected to reduce energy costs for the countries involved by approximately 20 - 25 percent. The natural gas transported by this pipeline will be initially used for industrial power generation and then eventually for domestic use.

The treaty was designed to standardize the regulatory framework for pipeline operations. It also creates the West Africa Gas Administration Agency to run the pipeline company from its headquarters in Ghana's capital Accra. Finally, it is due to concede to the company third party access rights to transport gas for other firms. With the signing of the treaty, ChevronTexaco and its consortium partners hope to take the final investment decision in the pipeline by December. Details of funding are expected to be worked out that time.

NNPC hold a 25% interest in the pipeline; Shell holds 18%; the Volta River Authority of Ghana owns 16.3%. Benin and Togo energy agencies each hold 2%.