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Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline Project Management

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Background
  • Risk Assessment
  • Security
  • Leakage
  • Project Stalling
  • Responsibility Matrix
  • Project Plan
  • Reflection and Recommendations
  • Bibliography

Executive Summary

The Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline project was agreed upon by three countries in 2009 but has not been initiated yet. The countries of Nigeria, Niger and Algeria sought to create a network that would connect with the others that supply Europe with natural gas. However, some hurdles have caused the stagnation of this ambitious project among them security concerns and financial capabilities. The Corporate Planning concerning the submission of a Project Initiation Document contacts SONATRACH. Contained herein are the details- working schedule, budget, risks and recommendations relevant to the project.


The Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TGSP) is a proposal aimed at seeing Algeria and Nigeria combine together to diversify the supply of gas to the European continent. Seen by many observers as the most amazing undertaking in Africa, the two nations are trying to connect Algeria’s supply of natural gas to other countries to benefit from it (Nwaoha and Wood 2014). Unknown to several persons, this idea was first conceived in the 1970s, but before its launch, it met a myriad of obstacles. It wasn’t until 2009 that ministers from the countries involved meet and decided to finish the project by 2015. (Seljom and Rosenberg 2011). However, owing to different challenges getting in the road, this has yet to be done. And if this was traditionally considered to be an affair between Nigeria and Algeria, as the scheme had to travel through its territories, Niger could not be ignored.

The scale of the project would see it originate from the Warri area, which is in Nigeria, and travel through Niger all the way to Algeria’s Hassi R’mel. The project would then connect the Trans-Mediterranean, Medgaz, Galsi and Maghreb pipelines, which currently supply several sections of Europe, to R’mel (Reymond 2007). In terms of duration, it is projected that the whole project would span at least 4,128 km, but for the Algerian portion, which forms the base of the initiation document for this project, the distance is 2,310 km.

Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline Project Management

The goals of this project are to extend the demand for natural gas to European countries, to improve the relationships between the parties concerned and to seek an end to the market for gas oil. In addition to providing an improving economy, the increased stability of countries and job prospects for a large number of Algerians are other benefits which will be obvious from this programme. Not only in Europe, but even internationally, natural gas is one of the most used resources (Engerer and Horn 2010) .The project deliverables for this undertaking will include secured pipeline whereby the materials used shall comprise of ductile iron and PVC pipes. Normally, these pipes are approved for underground work meaning they can offer a sense of security if buried (Sealy 2007). Worth noting is that one of the reasons the project has stalled is security concerns with terrorism activities among them. Hence, by using materials that can be used underground, the project could as well be initiated.

Risk Assessment

Having provided an in-depth background, the section will not focus on the risk assessment and offer the mitigation. In many cases, almost all projects are faced with risks, and this one is not exceptional. Nonetheless, with a good risk assessment plan, almost any project can be undertaken so long as the assessment was accurately done and recommendations implemented accordingly (De Schepper, Dooms, and Haezendonck 2014). In order to be successful in this part, project managers ought to collect their data form credible sources as opposed to focusing solely on what is often fronted by the mainstream (Poler and Mula 2011). That is to say, a good risk assessment has to be conducted independently with an open mind.


On top of this list is the elusive security stability in the region with Nigeria still grappling with the terror group, Boko Haram that threatens to curtail the entire project (Ejiogu 2013). Even though this may seem like a problem Nigeria ought to face alone, the truth is that it could have a negative impact on the other nations. This is because, the group has a tendency of extending its attack on any other country seeming to support the Nigeria government. It therefore means that the group may seek to attack the pipelines even in Algeria.  The threat exists where the group may take control of the pipes and cause some leakage as this would be catastrophic.

Notwithstanding this threat, one pro exists whereby pipes will run underground thus ensuring the gas pipes run underground. While this may not fully guarantee security, it will significantly mitigate the risk, which will be higher if the pipes are in the open (Sealy 2007). An additional pro is that the three countries involved have in recently expressed commitment to work together in ensuring the cases of insecurity do not overshadow this all-important project (Ejiogu 2013).


Additionally, there is the issue of leakage of gas, which could arise from various reasons one of which is using substandard materials. As Weyers (2005) noted, some materials- like aluminium- should never be used in transporting natural gas especially underground.  To mitigate against this, SONATRACH intends to use the highly recommended materials in transporting the gas. Even though these are somewhat expensive, there can be no compromise in this, as it would pose great danger to the people residing around the region through which the project runs.

 In addition, leakage could arise from improper connect of the pipes or interference from outside (Sealy 2007). While these prove to be cons of this project, the pros include that purchasing tightly sealed materials will mitigate this. Further pros include the competent personnel at Sonatrach who will ensure the materials used at up to the standards, and that they properly installed. Finally, to avoid interference from outside, it is imperative that the pipes run underground to minimize human interaction.

Project Stalling

Stalling of the project is an additional risk that could be witnessed due to a number of reasons. For instance, a delay in releasing the funds could see the project stagnate, as has been the case recently. Further, lack of cooperation from the other involved parties could derail the project meaning it would also take a longer time. While these risks are not solely SONATRACH’s responsibility, it would be advisable that the Corporate Planning ensures all countries involved have shown commitment beforehand.

In concluding this section, one could summarise the pros of this projects by listing the personnel of SONTARCT, availability of resources, immense experience in these matters and knowledge of the issues surrounding it. Further, the fact that the pipes need not be exposed coupled with the project being governmental mean discretion may prove to be helpful. Conversely, the cons of the project include the threats posed by the extremists in the region, stalled negotiations and financial constraints. As demonstrated above, the issue of security has been extensively mitigated and only financial and negotiations are left for the concerned parties.

While the two issues may seemingly delay the project, Nwaoha and Wood (2011) have reported that there is no evidence of more delays or postponement of this initiative, they have confirmed. Hence, the project could be initiated any time. Essentially, whereas there is no total exclusion of the cons in this project, there have been sufficient measures to mitigate many, if not all, of them. Therefore, the overall risk assessment has sufficiently been addressed hence no need for further procrastination.

Responsibility Matrix

Whenever a project is being undertaken, a responsibility matrix is imperative to help in tracking the individuals responsible for various tasks. This will help in holding people accountable whenever there is an issue arising (Ruggiero 2008). Additionally, it helps in understanding the steps to take and planning for the project. That is to say the firm undertaking the project will find it easier to organise itself (Rölleke, Tsikrika and Kazai 2006). Consequently, SONATRACH has developed a responsibility Matrix to help in understand the duties carried out by various individuals.

The figure below is the responsibility matrix for this project

Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline Project Management


D= Decide- The final decision lies with this person or department

C- Consulted- Before a decision is made this person or department ought to be consulted

I – Informed- the plans and suggestions are made known to this group

R- Responsible- the group, person or department tasked with a certain duty

Source: (Author)

Project Plan

The success of every project lies more in the plan than anything, hence, the importance of creating an effective one (Ketola 2010). In light of this, this is a section dedicated to outlining the various stages the project will take.

This figure has been created using the Stage-Gate Approach.

Phase 1: Feasibility Phase 2


Phase 3


Phase 4


Phase 5


Review Risks are as outlined.

No fatal flaws noted in the feasibility study

There is enough potential to undertake stage two

After analysis, this project is still viable. All major risks mitigated.

Funding available and no change on the project viability

Phase 3 is successful and ready to roll out the next stage Having followed all the guidelines, the project is now safely complete
Variables Report on the feasibility of this project will be delivered Qualified personnel selected to undertake the project Training and briefing of the team on the project Digging of furrows, supply of materials and commencement of the project Algeria can now safely transport the gas to its intended destination
Cost $2000 $1000 $ 1500 $65000 Taxes/fees
Schedule Feb- March 2015  March 10 2015 April 2015 2015-2017 2018
Resources Researchers HR managers Project managers

Health practitioners


Civil engineers



Government department responsible for gas monitoring
Action Go to phase 2 Ready to proceed Go to next phase Ready for final phase Excellence in operations

Source: (Author)

From this table, several issues are worth an explanation including phase one which deals with feasibility. In every organization, feasibility study is an imperative as it helps in identifying what can work, the threats involved and how to conquer them (Shen, Tam and Ji 2010). For this project, it is vital to understand if all the previously mentioned risks are mitigated against. As illustrated above, the risks, which included security concerns, safety due to leakage and disagreements, they have been extensively mitigated against. Undertaking a business project without analyzing and providing a solution to the issues witnessed could end up seeing a firm lose its credibility. Normally, this occurs when the firm undertaking it cannot offer the exact project as the one in the blueprint (Huang Chang, Hwang and Ma 2014).

 Since the distance of this project is somehow long, the budget quoted above is not exaggerated because a number of individuals are required to carry out the feasibility study. In order to have a successful study, it is highly recommended that experienced and competent researchers be involved meaning higher remuneration. Bause, Radimersky, Iwanicki and Albers (2014) reported that if a company fails to get it right at the feasibility study, this could have adverse effects because it guides every other action taken.

The issue of qualified personnel cannot be over-emphasized enough as it they are the most important resource in determining the success of the business (Leischnig and Kasper-Brauer 2014). Therefore, the selection of these individuals is vital, to say the least, and that is why Human Resource (HR) managers are engaged. The amount quoted on this part is meant to cater for the advertisement of the positions of these individuals where a competitive process will be undertaken. At SONATRACH, only the most qualified personnel will be hired, and it is for this reason the vacancies will be advertised.

The execution stage will see the staff and other employees engage in the groundbreaking and start the work. The intention of SONATRACH is to finish the project within the specified period without compromising the standard of the work. To succeed in this part, civil engineers and all the other relevant experts will be consulted in order to have only the best staff. The entire process of the project will be undertaken following strict guidelines of building. By so doing, many of the risks aforementioned will be alleviated. It is the intention of the SONATRACH to ensure that the expectations of Corporate Planning are met through compliance of the laws set.

In order to ensure the project does not stagnate, one key recommendation is that a working schedule ought to be created and applied (Goold and Campbell 2006). A perfect working schedule requires categorization as per the various classifications of a project (Gannon and Banham 2011). In light of this, SONATRACH will use the schedule below to ensure all tasks are carried out as expected.

The figure below represents a Work breakdown Structure (WBS)

Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline Project Management

Source: (Author)

Reflection and Recommendations

Having carried out this report with the utmost professionalism and an absence of bias, it is highly recommendable that various issues be solved in the future. For instance, any project that largely relies on the cooperation of other countries ought to be initiated as soon as an agreement is reached. It was reported that this project was thought about in 2009 but it has not since been initiated (Odumugbo 2010). Lessons learnt from this project include that some risks are not as rife as sometimes portrayed. For instance, the issue of security could be resolved if all countries agreed to observe discretion on the location of the pipes.

Additionally, secrecy ought to be exercised in the future as opposed to availing the information to the public even before the final details are agreed upon. In this project, the information on the exact route was known by the public meaning it could make it vulnerable to terror activities. This can be achieved easily because many countries in Africa, despite other issues bedeviling them tend to demonstrate good inter-country relations (Moore 2014). 

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