WEST AFRICA: World Bank asked to withhold support for pipeline

Environmental NGOs and representatives from communities situated along the planned West African Gas Project (WAGP) pipeline have issued a joint statement opposing it.

The statement cites the absence of an environmental impact assessment as proof that the consortium in charge has not prioritised environmental protection.

The co-ordinated statement on the WAGP is the result of a meeting held last week, organised by Friends of the Earth Nigeria. Participating NGOs included FoE Ghana, FoE Togo, Environmental Rights Action (Nigeria) and Oilwatch Africa Network.

“We wrote to Chevron [the leader of the WAGP consortium] and we invited them to the meeting, but they didn’t show up,” a FoE Nigeria spokesperson told edie. “They sent a letter and a map showing where the pipeline will go through.”

“We already know that the project is going ahead, although it is still at the conception stage,” Isaac Osauka, head of FoE Nigeria’s Oilwatch, told edie. “There will be an environmental impact assessment eventually but we are asking the World Bank to withhold support for the pipeline unless there are plans to deal with the impacts people have come to expect from this type of project.” Osauka cites deforestation of mangrove ecosystems, relocation of communities and explosions – “we’ve seen this type of thing before” – as some of the impacts communities and environmental organisations fear.

There has, thus far, been no response from Chevron or the World Bank to the statement. The stated aim of WAGP is to boost West African economies by ensuring reliable delivery of gas from Nigeria to Ghana, Togo and Benin (see related story).

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