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Dutch, Algerians discuss Sahara gas venture-report

Thomson Financial News

01.10.09, 12:37 PM EST

ALGIERS, Jan 10 (Reuters) – Algeria and the Netherlands discussed on Saturday a partnership involving Nigeria and Royal Dutch Shell in a project to pipe Nigerian gas to Europe across the Sahara, Algerian official media reported.

Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil said the topic was raised in talks he had with Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Maria van der Hoeven, the official Algerian news agency APS reported.

‘The Energy Minister indicated that the two parties had raised the possibility of a partnership between Sonatrach, the Nigerian hydrocarbon company NNPC and the Ango-Dutch Shell company to develop the mega-project of the Trans Sahara Gas Pipeline linking Nigeria to Europe via Algeria,’ APS reported.

APS did not elaborate.

NNPC is the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. Sonatrach is Algeria’s state owned oil and gas conglomerate.

The Saharan project, with capital costs estimated at $10 billion for the pipeline and $3 billion for the gathering centres, would send up to 30 billion cubic metres a year of gas to Europe via a 4,128 km (2,580 mile) pipeline from Nigeria, via Niger and Algeria, starting in 2015.

European Union (EU) Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs has welcomed the venture as being in the interests of European energy security and the environment and of Africa’s development.

Piebalgs has also said the EU might help finance it.

The project is looking for support from European governments and gas consumers, which are concerned about falling domestic supplies and reliance on gas piped in from Russia.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said last year it was holding preliminary talks with Nigeria about participating in the venture.

The gas would cross the Mediterranean via a growing network of pipelines that now takes Algeria’s gas to increasingly gas-dependent customers in Europe.

(Reporting by William Maclean, editing by Editing by Peter Blackburn) Keywords: AFRICA GAS/ALGERIA DUTCH

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