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Gazprom and China Salivate over Nigeria

nigeria061508.jpgIt’s not just that Gazprom has gotten used to taking things away from Royal Dutch Shell, although it may appear as such following Sakhalin and now their move toward Nigeria’s troubled Ogoniland (see my recent post on Shell’s withdrawal). Today there are reports that Gazprom and several Chinese state-held firms are aggressively pursuing these gas field stakes left behind by Shell – and the government of Umaru Yar’adua has indicated that it will entertain an offer from the group bringing the best infrastructure (read corporate foreign policy) package to the table. Our guest blogger Dee Prince, a Nigerian petrochemicals professor based in Beijin, has been all over this story of SOCs diving into Africa … Fast Company also has finally caught on. As far back as January, Gazprom was already talking about some huge “premature contracts” they were planning for Nigeria (in the order of $7 billion), which the FT described as “one of the boldest forays in the global fight for African energy assets.” If Gazprom wins over this Shell concession, it will be bad news for Europe and the United States (more and more energy under political control, as well as Gazprom’s terrible record with inefficient flaring, which is a big problem in Nigeria) – but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it. From all my contacts I’ve had with the Nigerian government in recent months, I continue to hear glowingly positive stories about how the Russians are playing the energy game in the Gulf of Guinea – the international super majors are having a really tough time closing this gap and understanding how to advance talks with the state. Just as in the Caspian region, it is difficult to summon much sympathy for the failures of the West to make successful moves toward securing energy resources. I am not observing much of a learning curve.