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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Russia's Gazprom to sign oil deal with Nigeria

June 23, 2009 - (Reuters by Randy Fabi) - ABUJA, Gazprom (GAZP.MM) is expected to sign a joint venture agreement with Nigeria's state-run oil firm NNPC as part of the Russian president's visit to Africa's biggest oil producer on Wednesday, a senior Kremlin source said. Details of the deal were not available, but Gazprom in February said it was close to sealing a $2.5 billion oil and gas exploration deal that would create a 50/50 joint venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. [ID:nLP386561] Russian President Dmitry Medvedev travels to Nigeria's capital Abuja on Wednesday to meet with President Umaru Yar'Adua and promote Moscow's economic interests in Africa's most populous country. "A number of intergovernmental agreements are expected to be signed after the talks in Abuja, including a document on the founding of a joint venture between Gazprom and Nigeria's NNPC," said a senior Kremlin official, who asked not to be named. An NNPC official also confirmed the planned signing, but declined to provide details. A senior Gazprom source told Reuters in February that 90 percent of the $2.5 billion investment would be in developing Nigeria's domestic gas production, processing and transportation. Nigeria has the world's seventh-largest proven gas reserves, but has been unable to develop its gas industry to anywhere near full potential because of a lack of funds and regulation. Some industry experts in Europe see Russia's deals with African OPEC members like Nigeria as an attempt to increase control on Europe's natural gas supplies. Gazprom already provides a quarter of Europe's gas.

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