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PIPE DREAMS (6): West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) is Energy Enslavement
Friday, 09 September 2005

ACCRA (GHANA) September 9, 2005

Civil society groups and affected communities from Ghana, Togo and Benin are worried that the sponsors of the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP), including Chevron, the World Bank Group and the governments of Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria have commenced construction of the pipeline without addressing the economic, political and environmental risks identified by communities, social and environmental groups and government agencies.

The West African Gas Pipeline, one of the region’s largest trans-boundary investments, is projected to cost 560 million USD and it is being built to transport gas from Nigeria through Benin and Togo to Ghana. Project promoters claim that WAGP will reduce carbon emissions, provide cheaper, more reliable and environmentally friendly energy, and foster economic development and integration in Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. 

However, we are concerned that emerging realities indicate that the pipeline cannot deliver what is promised by its sponsors but would rather lead to subversion of our national laws and sovereignty, worsening environmental degradation, impoverishment and dislocation of Nigerian communities, while setting the stage for unregulated profiteering and control of regional energy resources by transnational corporations and the World Bank at the expense of our governments and peoples already overburdened by huge external debts.

Although promoters of WAGP claim the project is West African by its origin and meant to address the needs of people from that region, WAPCo, the company that will own and operate the WAGP is not registered in any West African country. It is registered in Bermuda, and will operate as an offshore company with major fiscal, environmental and social exemptions specifically allowed with the WAGP Treaty and Enabling Legislations.

We note that an assessment undertaken by Ghana’s Energy Commission concluded that the WAGP project would not be economically viable for the people in Ghana. The terms offered to Ghana by the Chevron led consortium lock Ghana into buying WAGP’s gas at a set price for twenty years, impacting on Ghana’s budget and ruling out possible future alternative energy choices. While Ghana’s citizens and taxpayers will feel these impacts, the project is entirely in the hands of Chevron.

We are worried that the deregulation and liberalization of the Energy sector in Ghana and Nigeria, as designed by the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in favour of Chevron and the WAGP would increase energy costs above the reach of ordinary citizens and small scale businesses.

The agreements and Treaty between the governments and the companies have been negotiated and signed, contracts for the sale of gas have been sealed, yet the local people through whose communities the pipeline will traverse know little about the project. According to Alhaji Alani Ajose of Mowo Town, Badagry, Nigeria, “only a few people identified as landowners have been met by Chevron agents in the Badagry area of Nigeria and some of those persons have been paid a mere $20 as compensation for land without consultation and negotiation. The broader affected community members have just been ignored.”

The West African Gas Pipeline Treaty has been ratified by the National Assemblies of Ghana and Nigeria, while the Enabling Legislations for the project, designed by consultants to Chevron and the US government, are being enacted in the National Assemblies with utmost secrecy. We are worried that our legislators may be rushing to enact a foreign bill that subverts our national sovereignties and undermine our communities.

Oil and Gas Conflicts in the Western Delta

Gas for the WAGP will be sourced from the Escravos area in the Western Niger Delta, an area noted for violent state repression and conflicts arising from competition for control of land and resources between the Nigerian government, oil and gas companies and the communities. Without an attempt to resolve these issues, there is the grave danger that WAGP will exacerbate the crisis in the area, which will lead to further disruptions in gas supply, while worsening the insecurity and impoverishment in the area. The foundation is being laid for the continuation and export of conflict from the Niger Delta to local communities that would be negatively affected by the project in Nigeria and Ghana.

Gas coming from the Niger Delta could hardly be the basis of sound integration in our region. The WAGP could rather foster regional disintegration and social and political tensions in West Africa.

Gas Flaring

Though the WAGP has been promoted as a gas flare reduction project, sponsors have not demonstrated commitment to addressing the problem in Nigeria. We demand a commitment that 100 percent associated (currently flared)       gas be used for the WAGP until associated gas from existing and future oilfields is exhausted.

Moreover, WAGP sponsors and other major transnational oil companies operating in Nigeria should be compelled by law to provide a written commitment and concrete plan to end all associated gas flaring by 2008, both for operations associated with WAGP and other oil developments in the country. In addition, Nigerian national legislation should ensure that all new oil development in the country be accompanies by associated gas gathering infrastructure, and utilisation programs for power generation within Nigeria.

Need for Transparency
As a condition the project going ahead, sponsors and the governments should disclose to the people of Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria: the WAGP Treaty and Annexed International Project Agreement, all gas purchase or off-take agreements between WAPCo and the consumers / governments of Ghana, Togo and the Republic of Benin, the contract between Ghana and Nigeria for the latter to provide a loan to the former for its equity stake in the pipeline, and the economic and financial assessments of WAGP.

Noble Wadzah, Friends of the Earth, Ghana

Mike Karikpo, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Nigeria

Asume Osuoka, Oilwatch Africa, Nigeria

Koffi Atri, Les Amis de la Terre, Togo

Abdulai Darimani, Third World Network-Africa, Ghana

Augustine Niber, CEPIL, Ghana

Peter K. Esse, Friends of the Nation, Ghana

Luke Alzima, ISODEC, Ghana

Alhaji Alani Ajose, Consortium of Affected Communities, Nigeria


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© 2007 Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
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