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Nigerian, Algerian Presidents to Meet on Sahara Gas Pipeline

June 29 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria and Algeria plan to discuss the timeline for the construction of a trans-Sahara pipeline that will take natural gas from both countries to Europe at this week’s African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea.

“We will come up with a clear war plan and timeline for the project,” Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said today. Africa’s biggest oil producer is looking to private investors to help build the $20 billion gas pipeline project, which is expected to be completed by 2015, Jonathan said.

African producers are increasing investments in gas projects as Europe seeks to reduce its dependence on Russia, which accounts for a fifth of its supply of the fuel. Nigeria, Algeria and Niger signed an accord in July 2009 to build the pipeline which will run from the Niger River delta, in southern Nigeria, across Niger to Algeria and then across the Mediterranean Sea to Spain, with possibly a branch going to Italy, according to the Nigerian petroleum ministry.

OAO Gazprom, Total SA and Eni SpA have also shown an interest in developing the 4,127-kilometer (2,565-mile) pipeline, which is 90 percent owned by state oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. and Algeria’s Sonatrach. Niger Republic holds the remaining stake.

Algeria is Africa’s biggest gas producer and Nigeria holds the continent’s largest reserves of about 187 trillion standard cubic feet, data from the ministry showed.

“We promise by 2015, even if it’s not finished, it will be some way to being there,” Jonathan said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja at ebalagbogbo@bloomberg.net.

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