Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom is in talks with Nigeria to gain access to its vast natural gas reserves, the Financial Times newspaper reported on Saturday.
The Russian company has offered to invest in energy infrastructure in return for the chance to develop some of the world's biggest gas deposits, the report said.
Gazprom executives visited the Nigerian capital Abuja in mid-December with a range of proposals to revamp the gas sector, the report said, citing an unnamed senior Nigerian oil industry official.
"What Gazprom is proposing is mind-boggling," the official was quoted as saying by the newspaper. "They are talking tough and saying the West has taken advantage of us in the last 50 years and they are offering us a better deal.
"They are ready to beat the Chinese, the Indians and the Americans."
The Nigerian official said Gazprom was also competing with international banks to take over funding of the government's share of ventures with Western oil companies, the FT said.
The paper said Gazprom representative Ilya Kochevrin confirmed that the talks had taken place.
"We made a decision to go global in terms of acquiring assets and developing strategy outside Russia. Africa is one of our priorities," the paper quoted him as saying.
Nigeria is the world's eighth-biggest exporter of crude oil but even though it has the seventh-largest proven gas reserves in the world it has not developed its gas industry to anywhere near full potential.
About 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas associated with the extraction of crude oil are burnt off every day because there is no infrastructure to make use of the gas. ( Reuters )