Border closure: Benin, others seek gas pipeline operation renegotiation



Ghana, Togo and Republic of Benin at the weekend pushed vigorously for a review of laws and regulations guiding the operations of $1 billion gas pipeline, which transports gas from Nigeria to the three countries.

The fresh clamour for negotiations, a document of Agence Ecofin sighted by New Telegraph at the weekend read, took place in a context where Nigeria had closed its borders with its western neighbors, particularly Benin, and consequently Ghana and Togo.

A closure that is not without consequences on the economies of these countries and continues without the authorities of Abuja announcing an end date.

Experts, delegates and parliamentarians of the four countries that are part of this transnational mechanism (Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Togo) met in a workshop that was opened by Togolese minister of mines and energy, Dèdèriwè Marc Ably-Bidamon.

The review, Ably-Bidamon, who doubles as the President of  Committee of Ministers of the West African Gas Pipeline Project, maintained was necessary eight years after the pipeline began its operations across the four countries.

The law and the regulation governing the operation of the West African Gas Pipeline (WAPCO), he said, was the subject of an amendment in Lomé, which took place on Thursday, September 26, 2019.

Indeed, the meeting, Ably-Bidamon continued in a document sighted by New Telegraph, “aims first of all to imbue you with the realities of the West African Gas Pipeline, after eight years of operation.”

It was also for these actors to harmonise their points of view, “on amendments that the test of time, or the experience of exploitation have made necessary.”

The experts, thus deliberated on the proposals of amendment of the law of WAPCO and its regulation with the institutions concerned.

The idea being to submit the harmonised proposals for adoption by the parliaments of the four state parties.

This solidarity tool between the four countries of West Africa, with an estimated cost of $974 million, is aimed at its launch to provide gas with a maximum capacity of 13.45 million cubic meters per day to countries such as Benin, Togo, Ghana and Nigeria.

Launched since the beginning of this decade, its functioning has, however, been undermined by cash and unpaid issues vis-à-vis some partner countries.

Nigeria, it would be recalled had declared that over 10 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), better known as petrol, is now being saved due to the ongoing partial border closure ordered by the Federal Government codenamed “Exercise Swift Response.”

Apart from the tremendous success the restriction of free movement across Nigerian borders has recorded, as well as curtailing disorderly acts, it has also come with equal measure of agony to citizens, just as it poses serious threats to other genuine businesses.

Also, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says the border restriction has achieved a lot, in addition to the borders now being fully secured, while smuggling has been reduced to the barest minimum.

According to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), prior to the closure of the borders, the country’s daily consumption of petrol was approximately 61 million litres, which has now reduced to 51.7 million as indicated in its latest figures, which was obtained between September 9 and 15.

The spokesman of the agency, Kimchi Apollo, who disclosed this in Abuja, yesterday, said, “according to statistics, figures recorded from various depots nationwide for the 5th to 11thAugust 2019 was about 61 million litres, representing the average volume trucked out before the border closure.”

Apollo, who is also the General Manager, Corporate Services of PPPRA, added that the agency observed that from the statistics obtained between August 12 and 18, 2019, a drop of about 35 per cent in volume trucked out from the previous week was noticed, which could be attributed to the reduction in activities of various facilities during the Sallah holiday.

However, he added that from August 19 to 25, 2019, which falls within the period the borders were partially closed, the agency recorded an average daily truck out figure of about 57 million litres, which fell below the daily average figure for the week 5 to 11 August 2019.


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