RABAT, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Morocco and Nigeria are forging ahead with their landmark gas pipeline project, which aims to connect gas resources from Nigeria to West African countries and Morocco.
The two countries signed on Sunday a new agreement laying out the next steps for the implementation of this major pipeline based on a prior agreement in December 2016, when Morocco's King Mohammed VI visited the Nigerian capital Abuja.
According to the 2016 agreement, which was signed by the Moroccan Office for Hydrocarbons and Mining (ONHYM) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the pipeline will be approximately 5,660-km long and its construction works will be in phases covering 25 years.
After feasibility studies in 2017, the two countries opted for a combined onshore-offshore route to build the pipeline, among other routes that have also been evaluated.
This strategic project aims to intensify the regional collaboration between Morocco, Nigeria, Mauritania and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries in order to promote trade and development in the sub-region of Africa.
It also aims to promote the emergence of an integrated zone of North and West African and enable the region to achieve energy independence, accelerate the implementation of electrification projects and develop important economic and industrial activities.
The project is also expected to have a positive impact on more than 300 million inhabitants, as it would serve as the basis for a competitive electricity market in West Africa.
Morocco and Nigeria are expected to launch a Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) to involve countries that the pipeline will cross in the ECOWAS and to determine the amount of gas available for export to potential buyers.
This step will also reveal the estimate costs of the project, which remains one of the main challenges facing the project, which may stretch up towards Europe.
The two countries share a strong willingness at the highest level to achieve this project, according to a joint statement following Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's visit to Morocco on Monday.
Buhari and the Moroccan king noted with satisfaction the milestones achieved and underscored their commitment to this regional gas pipeline.
Through this project and others, the two leaders reaffirmed their will to create a model of South-South Cooperation.