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Nigeria seeks Sh109 billion for key gas pipeline

By Reuters | Aug 11th 2021 | 2 min read
By Reuters | August 11th 2021
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) headquarters are seen in Abuja, Nigeria. [Reuters]

Nigeria is seeking $1 billion (Sh109 billion) so work can continue on a gas pipeline costing up to $2.8 billion (Sh306 billion) after Chinese lenders who had pledged to offer most of the funds did not disburse cash as quickly as expected, three sources close to the matter said.

It is the latest sign of falling Chinese financial support for infrastructure projects across Africa, after years of major Chinese lending for railway, energy and other projects.

A spokesman for state oil company NNPC, which is building the 614-km (384-mile) Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline, said it was still negotiating with the Chinese lenders - Bank of China and Sinosure - to cover $1.8 billion (Sh196 billion) of the project cost.

"There's no cause for alarm," the spokesman said, without saying whether NNPC was turning to other lenders.

But the three sources told Reuters the company was now approaching others, including export-import institutions, to continue work on the pipeline that will run through the middle of the West African country to its northern economic hub Kano.

Chinese lenders had originally been lined up to fund the bulk of the estimated $2.5 billion to $2.8 billion cost of the project, which is central to President Muhammadu Buhari's plan to develop gas resources and boost development in northern Nigeria.

NNPC, which was funding 15 per cent, said last year it had used its own funds to start construction. The sources said the Chinese lenders would not agree to disburse the cash NNPC had expected by the end of the summer, prompting it to turn to others.

"They are looking at Nigeria as one loan, and right now, they feel they are too exposed," one source said. Bank of China said it would not comment on specific deals. Sinosure did not respond to a request for comment.

The Nigerian ministries of transport, finance and petroleum also did not reply to requests for comment.  

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