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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Space and Gas Deals Planned in Nigeria

25 June 2009 - The Moscow Times by Maria Antonova - Members of President Dmitry Medvedev's entourage said Wednesday that he would oversee the signing of major gas and nuclear deals, as well as a sweeping agreement on space cooperation during his visit to Nigeria. Medvedev left Egypt on Wednesday afternoon for Nigeria, the second destination on his four-country African tour aiming to establish a bigger business presence in the resource-rich continent. Federal Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov said the expected agreement with Nigeria covered space cooperation in seven areas, including telecoms, navigation and geological research. "Everything but sending up pilots," he said, RIA-Novosti reported. He said Egypt had agreed to cooperate on Glonass, Russia's struggling answer to the U.S.-led GPS satellite system, and that the document would be signed soon. Perminov also said Russia was launching a satellite for South Africa within a month from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which it leases from Kazakhstan. Medvedev called Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Wednesday, according to the Kremlin web site, although it was not immediately clear what they discussed. A telecoms satellite is also ready to launch for Angola, Perminov said. "We hope to resolve all the financial aspects of this project on this visit," he added. The delegation will go to Angola on Friday. Medvedev and his delegation of officials and businessmen landed in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Wednesday evening for the first-ever visit there by a Russian president. Sergei Prikhodko, Medvedev's top foreign policy aide, told reporters that Gazprom and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation would sign a record gas deal, with the Russian company investing up to $2.5 billion into a Nigerian joint venture. The companies will have equal stakes in the venture, which will engage in research, extraction and transporting gas, he said. Gazprom had previously discussed the possibility of participating in the construction of a pipeline across the Sahara Desert, as well as pipeline infrastructure in Nigeria. The trans-Sahara link would connect Nigeria with Algeria's export system, making it possible to send Nigerian gas to Europe. Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko said he also expected a series of nuclear energy cooperation agreements in Nigeria, including Russia's possible participation in construction of a nuclear power plant and uranium exploration. "It's a chance for us to stake out a claim for the territory," he said, regarding uranium exploration on lands that have not yet been explored, Interfax reported. Medvedev is scheduled to visit Namibia and Angola next, the first time a Russian leader will have traveled to either country. The Russian delegation includes Natural Resources and Environment Minister Yury Trutnev, Federal Fisheries Agency head Andrei Krainy, Vneshekonombank chief Vladimir Dmitriyev and executives from major companies including Alrosa, Gazprom Neft and Intourist. Russia is especially well-positioned to "cooperate with Namibia in sectors related to energy" and is interested in projects on hydro, heat and nuclear power as well as Namibia's mining industry, Prikhodko said. Alrosa, VEB, Sintezneftegaz, Technopromexport, Stroitransgaz and units of Gazprom are interested in increasing their business in Namibia, Prikhodko said.

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