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09.06.2005 Business & Finance

First step of WAGPP begins at Tema

Tema, June 9, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Thursday pressed the button for the first pipe in the West African Gas Pipeline Project (WAGPP) to be coated with cement and wire-mesh at the coating plant site at the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Tema. The coating would ensure that the pipes become well embedded in the seabed.
The first shipload of 8,000 pipes arrived at the Tema Harbour in May last year and eight shiploads of pipes are expected in Tema between now and November this year. About 52,000 pipes would be shipped to Ghana for concrete weight coating. A pipe averages 12.7 metres in length, 50.8 centimetre in diameter and weighs about 1.7 tonnes. Each pipe after cement coating weighs about six tonnes and an average of 200 pipes would be coated per day using the two concrete-coating plants. The coating would run until the end of January 2006.
President Kufuor expressed his appreciation about the ceremony that would kick-start the project that on completion would energise Ghana's economy. He said the project had been on the drawing board for about 10 years and the fact that actual work had begun now was a credit to the Government for its ability to secure financial assistance to bring it to fruition.
President Kufuor appealed to engineers and workers on the project to be dedicated and to work around the clock to ensure that it was completed on schedule for gas to flow in Ghana by December 2006. "With the completion of the project, West Africa will be linked in a more practical way than before", he said. Mr Clement Oke, General Manager (Operations) of West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo), said work would commence immediately after the ceremony. He said after the coating of the pipes they would be transported by a ship to Takoradi for the offshore construction of the pipeline to commence in August 2005.
The West African Gas Pipeline Project is a unique effort by four African States - Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin - to tap gas resources from Nigeria for the mutual benefit of all the parties.
The Ministerial Steering Committee of the Project, which met in Abuja, Nigeria, on April 21, 2005 reviewed progress of work on the project. The sponsors of the project took the Final Investment Decision (FID) to go ahead with the project in December 2004 and work done to date is deemed to be satisfactory. "All relevant outstanding matters were resolved at the meeting." The Ministers signed and issued Pipeline Licences on behalf of their respective Governments to WAPCo to enable it finalise preparations for the impending construction of the 590 million dollars regional gas transmission system.
Already more than 190 kilometres of the pipes have been manufactured and the first shipment arrived in Ghana in May. The West African Gas Pipeline would be a 678 kilometres onshore and offshore. The high-pressure transmission pipeline would transmit natural gas from Nigeria to customers in Benin, Togo and Ghana. The pipeline would be built, owned and operated by WAPCo whose current shareholders are; Chevron Texaco West African Gas Pipeline Limited, 38.2 per cent; Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, 26 per cent; Shell Overseas Holdings Limited, 18.8 per cent and Takoradi Power Company Limited, Ghana, 17.0 per cent.
Some of the benefits that are expected to accrue to Ghana from the project include reduced cost of thermal electricity generation through reduced fuel and maintenance costs, open access to the pipeline enabling the transportation of indigenous gas, once discovered. The rest are environmentally cleaner source of fuel leading to reduction of greenhouse emissions and the development of secondary gas market for industrial and domestic use.