The West African Gas Pipeline suffered a catastrophic loss of containment in early 2007 due, apparently, to damage by a ship's anchor. As a result of the incident, risk analysis was undertaken and effort expended on Public Awareness, Marine Risk Mitigation strategies and Marine Protection measures which culminated in the offshore Damage Prevention Programme (DPP).
Since April 2007, WAPCo and the WAGP Authority have been conducting Safety Awareness Publicity across the region to sensitize the maritime communities on the safety and security precautions for safe transmission. WAPCo's awareness campaign has been well established in the four main ports on the pipeline route. All Port and Naval officials are cognizant of the pipeline and the need to ensure it is protected from marine damage. The campaign is also a continuous process intended to cover all coastal communities especially the fisher folks along the pipeline rout. WAPCo has additionally trenched the two branches of pipeline in Togo and Benin under the sea bed that were recognized as vulnerable pipeline sections.
In conjunction with WAGP Authority Regulations, and as part of the risk mitigation measures a one nautical mile Exclusion Zone either side of the pipeline known as Pipeline Protection Zone (PPZ) has been adopted across the four countries to minimize the chances of causing damage to the pipeline. This zone and the pipeline are published in new editions of Admiralty charts especially Chart Number 1383 and 1384 which all mariners are encourage to consult when operating within the West Coast of Africa. Special marker buoys equipped with AIS transmitters and MMSI numbers are also installed at selected sections of the pipeline where shipping traffic is relatively heavy such as close to the ports of Takoradi, Tema, Lome, Cotonou and the Benin/Nigeria frontier.
Activities which constitute potential risk to offshore pipeline damage and which are strictly forbidden within the PPZ include but not limited to:
b. Ship Anchor Drag and trawl board impact.
c. Bottom Trawling
d. Illegal Fishing Methods such as use of dynamite
e. Mining including sand winning
h. Any activity that risk the chance of making physical contact with the sea bed within the zone and involves a risk of damaging the pipeline.
In line with our offshore pipeline safety requirements, WAGPA and WAPCo deem it important that the maritime community is made aware of the inherent dangers to human lives and property as well as the safety of the pipeline, should there be any violation of the identified safety precautions.
Mariners are particularly advised not to anchor or trawl within the PPZ as gas from a damaged pipeline could cause an explosion, loss of vessel buoyancy or other serious hazards. It must also be noted that the main pipeline is not buried and it may reduce charted depths by up to 2 meters especially at the Tees where the valves are encaged. The pipeline has also spanned seabed undulations and may cause fishing gear to become irrecoverably snagged putting a vessel in severe danger.
Mariners are further encouraged to report any unusual observations to the various Maritime Authorities of the 4 affected countries. Additionally, WAPCo Marine Supervisor can be reached on +233 244 338 615. You can also reach our operations room through the following numbers: +233 302 740 383; +233 302 740 384; +233 302 740 385; MTN Tollfree: 054-0110000.
Pipeline Protection Zone coordinates (Coordinates)
Outlay chart of pipeline (Pipeline As Built)
WAPCo and the WAGP Authority would appreciate public support in the dissemination of the above information to ensure safety of the public and a reliable gas supply system from producers in Nigeria to customers in Ghana, Togo and Benin.
Breach to the Pipeline
With the introduction of gas into the pipeline, a vessel causing damage to a it could face an immediate hazard either by loss of buoyancy due to gas aerated water, or by fire or explosion, or a combination of all the three, and result in an environmental hazard. A breach will also result in the contents of the pipeline escaping into the marine environment. The pollution hazard will depend on the composition of the gas. Hazardous pollution situations could result if the composition of H2S in natural gas is high.
Impact on Gas Supply
The contribution of gas delivery to the economies of the three countries can be assessed in terms of the power generated. A breach of the WAGP pipeline will halt gas delivery to these power producers across Ghana, Togo and Benin until repairs are completed. Such a situation would have severe financial implications for WAPCo and the power generating companies and eventually the final consumer. And remember that offshore repairs take considerable length of time to effect.