The West African oil and gas sector has become notorious for its project deferrals and delays over the years, as typified by the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) project – only now beginning to make real progress after a nine-year hiatus.

The West African oil and gas sector has become notorious for its project deferrals and delays over the years, as typified by the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) project – only now beginning to make real progress after a nine-year hiatus.

The WAGP mission, as first outlined back in 1995, was to establish sub-Saharan Africa’s first regional gas transmission system by means of a long offshore pipeline that would deliver routinely flared gas from fields in Nigeria’s western Niger Delta to energystarved neighbors Benin, Togo and Ghana. But despite the project’s transparent benefits for the region, both in accommodating energy demand growth and eliminating flaring, and several attempts to resurrect it, mutually acceptable fiscal and legal terms continued to elude the four participating nations.

Nine years on, however, the picture has brightened appreciably. Last December Chevron, as operator of the project for the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo), a group which includes the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shell, Ghana’s Takoradi Power Company, Togo’s Societe Togolaise de Gaz and Benin’s Societe Bengaz, announced that the project had received the official green light and that it was going ahead with construction. Horizon Offshore was hired as the installation contractor, with an eye toward a December 2006 startup, and Chevron confirmed last month that installation had indeed begun.

Under this $ 590 million project, as much as 475 million scf/d of Niger Delta gas will enter the system through NNPC’s existing 800 million scf/d capacity Escravos-to-Lagos pipeline system and run to a 20,000hp compressor station on the coast via a new 35- mile, 30in onshore connection northwest of Lagos. From Lagos Beach, a new 353-mile, 20in line will run westward parallel to the coast between nine and 12 miles offshore in water depths ranging from 98ft to 246ft to a power plant in Takoradi, Ghana, with lateral onshore delivery lines, including regulating and metering and custody transfer stations, at Cotonou, Benin, Lome, Togo and Tema, Ghana. At Takoradi, the system will further link to another 80km, 12in line run inland to Effasu, Ghana.

Offshore installation is being performed using Horizon’s Sea Horizon barge which the company estimates can lay at an average rate of one to two miles per day.

According to Chevron, beyond meeting coastal energy needs (with 85% of the line’s capacity destined for power generation and the remainder for local industries), a fully operational WAGP will enable greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by as much as 86 million tonnes over the next 20 years through flare reduction and the use of a cleaner burning fuel. The pipeline is expected initially to carry around 200 million scf/d of gas before ramping up to the full capacity.

Source : www.oilonline.com