June 21, 2024

Nigeria reinforces lobby for DG of West Africa Gas pipeline regulatory authority  

Oredola Adeola

The Nigerian Government has intensified pressure to sustain the appointment of a Nigerian as Director General, DG, Committee of Ministers of the West Africa Gas Pipeline Authority(WAGPA).

Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, canvassed the interest of the country during the meeting of the Committee of Ministers (CoM) West Africa Gas Pipeline (WAGP) held in Abuja, on Tuesday.WAGPA is an international organisation established by a treaty between Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana on January 31, 2002, to regulate trans-border gas pipelines laid from offshore Nigeria to the four countries.

The WAGP project, is a visionary project originated from the ECOWAS Energy Policy and aimed at fostering economic development and integration among ECOWAS States through cross border natural gas transportation.

Recall that Chafari Shadrach Kanya emerged as the Director General of the West Africa Gas Pipeline Authority, in February, 2022. EnergyDay gathered that the appointment required the ratification of the member nation, as one of member countries is objecting to the appointment of the Nigerian DG.

Sylva said over the years, the Nigerian government had shown leadership in ensuring that WAGPA was properly positioned to ensure that the objectives for which the organisation was set up were achieved.

This according to the Petroleum Minister is a follow-up on the extraordinary meeting of the committee held in Accra, Ghana on Nov. 16, 2021 to consider issues related to the appointment of the Director-General of WAGPA.

He noted that the solution that emerged from those discussions in Accra, in 2021 was the need to move ahead with the appointment of a Nigerian as a Director-General for WAGPA.Sylva referred the delegates to section 4(2) of Article IV of the WAGPA Treaty to resolve the issue of the appointment of the Director General for members.

He said, “If section 4(2) of Article IV of the Treaty is to the effect that Nigeria is qualified, then, there need not be further objection against what section 4(2) of Article IV of the Treaty plainly stated.

“I am also happy that this meeting will give us yet another opportunity to listen to presentations from WAGPA and WAPCo on the project performance and the status of the ongoing reforms. These presentations will enable us to assess performance of the project and the level of achievements made so far on the project and the challenges that will require our urgent attention as Committee of Ministers, the highest Authority of the WAGP”, he said.

Sylva added that the meeting was held at an auspicious time as it offers member nations with stakes in the WAGPA project a huge chance to fill the energy lacuna and gas scarcity created by the Russian-Ukrainian war.

The  Minister said, “It is our collective responsibility to ensure the success of the project, no matter how difficult it may sometimes be. As we all know, the ECOWAS Commission has initiated the West African Gas Pipeline Expansion Project (WAGPEP) and is currently working with the Nigeria- Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP) Project for possible synergy between the two projects. I also know that WAPCo and WAGPA are working closely with the entities to provide technical assistance and experience to achieve the synergy”, Sylva concluded.

Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Ghana’s Energy Minister, who doubles as the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers Meeting said that in spite of the technical breaches encountered in the past, the WAGP has remained a regional asset that has significantly contributed to the stability of power supply in beneficiary countries over the last few years.

“This makes it appropriate to extend the pipeline further along the West African coast up to Morocco to supply natural gas to the countries along the pipeline route, as well as those inland.

“It is for this reason that all efforts must be made to enhance the operational efficiency of the pipeline and strengthen the regulatory authority to perform its role, most importantly, within the anticipated context of multiplicity of shippers on the pipeline which would increase the complexity of regulation. The political dimension of this complexity cannot be understated.

“The other critical issue is the proposal to the ECOWAS Commission regarding the establishment of WAGPA properly as an ECOWAS institution. Although the feedback on this proposal is yet to be received, it needs to be emphasized that the response of the ECOWAS Commission is key in realizing the envisaged future of the pipeline as an infrastructure under the umbrella of ECOWAS”, he explained.

Chafari Kanya the Director General of WAGPA,urged the delegates to identify areas of gap or lack in the delivery of better services by WAGPA and abridge such gap/ lack to ensure not just continuous but increased and sustainable flow of gas.

“To me, this is important because adequate flow of gas to end users through the WAGP will fast track positive growth of the power sector of the countries, accelerate industrialization, generate employment, increase revenue for the State Parties and increase infrastructural developments for our people.

“These advantages to our State Parties are positive economic benefits that the WAGPA must not fail to play its role to achieve under my leadership as the DG of WAGPA, by the grace of God”, she said.

The meeting was attended by the Ministers of Energy of Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic; representative of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), ECOWAS Commissioner for Energy and Mines, the Director General of WAGPA, among others,