WEST AFRICAN GAS PIPELINE (WAGP) PROJECT: THE PROSPECTS, ASSOCIATED PROBLEMS AND POSSIBLE REMEDIES
Global focus is gradually turning away from crude oil as a major source of energy to natural gas due to its abundant availability, environmental friendliness and cost effectiveness. This has effectively increased the transboundary pipeline networks with minimal consideration to the impact at which the offshore of such projects could on the environment.
This article considers Nigeria’s present engagement in transboundary transportation of 11.3 billion cubic meters per day (11.3bcmpd) of natural gas to Benin, Togo and Ghana for thermal and industrial uses through a 1033km pipeline network out of which 617km is a submerged offshore pipeline network. The study is necessitated by the alarming frequency at which hydrocarbon pipeline failure occurs in Nigeria with the resulting economy, environmental and human consequences. It was discovered that though, the project is a plausible one, any failure along the offshore segment of the pipe-length poses high risk of hydrate formation and dissolution of some acidic constituents which could result to problems ranging from behavioral nature (e.g fish excitement, increased activities and scattering in the waterbody) to chronic poisoning, fire outbreak, loss of human lives and livestock and climate change.
Development of pragmatic management scheme, robust leak detection model and predictive model on natural gas flow pattern in waterbody are recommended while many existing viable models are discussed for possible modification.