French energy major Total plans to develop liquefied natural gas imports in the tiny West African nation of Benin, whose neighbour Nigeria is the world’s fifth-largest LNG exporter.
Total said it signed a Gas Supply Agreement and the Host Government Agreement for the development of a floating LNG import facility to supply 500,000 tonnes per annum to Benin for 15 years, starting in 2021.
Total will develop and operate the floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) and its associated infrastructure.
“It will include an offshore pipeline connection to the existing and planned power plants in Maria Gléta,” said Total.
The Benin government has signed a contract for a second power plant with financial backing from Denmark and to be located at Maria Gléta in the outskirts of the country’s largest city, Cotonou.
Total said its FLNG import project was in line with its strategy to develop new gas markets by unlocking access to LNG for fast-growing economies.
“We are very pleased to have been entrusted by the Benin authorities to develop LNG imports and support a broad adoption of natural gas in the country,” said Laurent Vivier, Senior Vice President Gas at Total.
“Access to LNG will help Benin to meet growing domestic energy demand and add more natural gas to the country’s current energy mix, hence reducing its carbon intensity,” added Vivier.
West African nations have mixed fortunes on the energy front with countries like Benin and Ghana seeking pipeline gas supplies or access to LNG while others such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal and Mauritania have adequate reserves to have current or developing LNG export projects.
Nigeria, which borders Benin, exported 19.68 million of LNG last year from its onshore plant at Bonny Island in the Niger Delta, making it the fifth-largest exporter in the world behind Qatar, Australia, Malaysia and the US and just ahead of Russia and Indonesia.
The Minister of Energy of Benin, Dona Jean-Claude Houssou, thanked Total for helping to build energy supplies for the power connections.
“I congratulate the Total Group on its willingness to support the revitalization of the energy sector, which is at the heart of the Government's Action Plan as evidenced by the signing of the gas import contract,” explained Houssou.
“I would like to highlight the Government's efforts to restore Benin's energy independence, which is the foundation of the country's ambitious economic and social development,” he added.
Benin has been putting in place a legislative framework to welcome participation of private capital in the energy sector with independent thermal, solar and hydroelectric power generation projects.
“The gas import project will supply plants in Benin, such as the new 127 MW power station at Maria Gléta, with imported LNG on preferential terms and will position Benin, capital of the WAPP (West African Power Pool), as the crossroads for gas and electricity in the subregion,” said Minister Houssou.