Oil Report

Total, Gazprom eye Sahara gas pipeline venture

ABUJA, Feb 25 (Reuters) - France’s Total and Russian gas monopoly Gazprom are interested in participating in a multi-billion dollar project to pipe Nigerian gas to Europe across the Sahara, executives from the firms said on Wednesday.

The project, with capital costs estimated at $10 billion for the pipeline and $3 billion for 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.

"Total believes this is a long term strategic diversification for Nigeria, which is quite interesting," Guy Maurice, Managing Director of Total TOTF.PA exploration and production in Nigeria, told an industry conference in Abuja.

“I take this opportunity to mention publicly that Total is ready to become involved in this project,” he said.

The European Union, which relies on Russia for about 40 percent of its gas and a third of its oil, has said the project could help diversify its energy sources.

Gazprom GAZP.MM, which said earlier it hoped to sign an oil and gas exploration deal worth $2.5 billion with Nigeria next month, repeated its interest in the project and said it would be ready to work with Total.

“We are also interested ... Gas projects in the Trans-Sahara Pipeline (TSP) give us an opportunity to showcase our experience,” said Vladimir Ilyanin, head of Gazprom Nigeria.

“We’ve worked with Total on many other projects so I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be able to work with them on this one,” he said.

For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: Reporting by Randy Fabi; Writing by Nick Tattersall