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The Peninsula: World Bank probing W Africa gas pipeline

Web posted at: 7/15/2007 8:33:53
Source ::: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • A World Bank panel is probing possible violations of bank procedures around its funding for the West African Gas Pipeline operated by Chevron Corp.

Washington-based environmental group Friends of the Earth said yesterday the investigation by the bank’s Inspection Panel will officially begin on July 15.

The probe follows complaints by 12 communities around the Badagry area in southwest Nigeria, who claim the project would damage land, destroy livelihoods and pollute fishing areas.

The Inspection Panel said on its website it “believes that these important questions regarding the bank’s alleged failure to comply with its own policies and procedures and possible harm to the requesters can only be addressed in the context of a Panel investigation.”

An official for the Inspection Panel said it did not comment on cases, adding: “We are in the investigation phase.” The project will transport natural gas from Nigeria’s petroleum fields to Benin, Togo and Ghana from this year to help ease the chronic power shortages in the region.

Friends of the Earth said the probe will look at “conflicting assertions” by the 12 communities and World Bank officials about the “cause of pollution … and alleged damage to fisheries, serious concerns regarding the valuation of assets and procedures for compensation, and a lack of information regarding the implementation of the project.”

The entire project is estimated to cost about $590m, of which the World Bank has provided a guarantee of $50m for Ghana.

In addition, the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency has provided a $75m political risk guarantee for the West African Gas Pipeline Co. (Wagpco).

Chevron, the second-largest US oil company, holds a 36.7 per cent stake in Wagpco.

Other shareholders include the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., Royal Dutch Shell, Ghana’s Takoradi Power Co. Ltd., Societe Togolaise de Gaz and Societe Beninoise de Gaz.

The pipeline is intended to supply gas-fired generating plants and help meet rising demand in Ghana, Togo and Benin.

http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=Business_News&subsection=market+news&month=July2007&file=Business_News2007071583353.xml

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