RUSSIA: Gazprom eyes Nigerian gas reserves

Russia's state-owned gas giant Gazprom is reportedly eyeing a ""mind-boggling"" stake in Nigeria's energy reserves in a bid to trump U.S., Chinese, and Indian interests.

RUSSIA: Gazprom eyes Nigerian gas reserves
In a dispatch from Abuja and Moscow, the Financial Times quoted a senior Nigerian oil industry official as saying Gazprom was offering to invest in energy infrastructure in return for access to the country's vast gas deposits.

""What Gazprom is proposing is mind-boggling,"" the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

""They're talking tough and saying the west has taken advantage of us in the last 50 years and they're offering a better deal ... they are ready to beat the Chinese, the Indians, and the Americans.""

The FT assessed that Gazprom's move -- on the heels of Russian President Vladimir Putin's attempts to seek energy cooperation with his Nigerian counterpart Umaru Yar'Adua -- would cause concern among European governments.

Europe is dependent on Russia for about a quarter of gas imports and has been troubled by Moscow's readiness to cut off supplies, it added.

Any inroads made by Gazprom would challenge Western dominance by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil in Nigeria, which is Africa's biggest producer of crude oil, the newspaper said.

Gazprom's representative Ilya Kochevrin was quoted as saying: ""We made a decision to go global in terms of acquiring assets and developing strategy outside Russia. Africa is one of our priorities.""

The Nigerian official said Gazprom executives had visited Nigeria in mid-December to outline proposals to overhaul the under-performing gas sector.

The FT said it had seen a Russian document, which promised to offer ""strong technical expertise and financial resources"" to Nigeria and work with the country on projects, including gas gathering in the oil-producing Niger Delta.

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