Rosneft could also supply Europe with new volumes from the giant Zohr gas field in Egypt, where it is a partner in a joint venture with Eni and BP. The projects’ partners have said gas would initially go to Egypt but could be also liquefied for exports at a later stage.

Dwarfed in gas

Oil-focused Rosneft is Russia’s most valuable energy company with a market capitalization of $65 billion, but its gas operations are relatively small — with an annual output of 68 bcm — though it is expanding them rapidly.

It is dwarfed in gas by Gazprom, which has an annual output of 471 bcm. Gazprom supplies 200 bcm of gas a year to Europe and Turkey, and volumes have grown steadily in recent years.

The gas giant, worth $54 billion, is the biggest supplier to Turkey with volumes of over 25 bcm a year, representing more than 60 percent of the country’s gas demand.

Gazprom’s biggest rivals in Europe are Algeria’s Sonatrach and Norway’s Statoil while globally it faces competition from liquefied gas from Qatar Petroleum and the United States.

One of Rosneft’s recent hires was Gazprom’s head of risk in Germany, Dzhamil Bulgakov, according to two sources and Bulgakov’s LinkedIn profile. He has been working for Rosneft’s gas export offices in Germany since last year.

Bulgakov could not be reached for comment.

Gazprom is currently restructuring its export division and plans to cut hundreds of jobs at its overseas trading and export offices, including Britain, and move them to St Petersburg, sources told Reuters in March.

Some former employees from Gazprom’s trading offices have been working as advisers to Rosneft on the Ghana deal in recent months, according to two industry sources. It was not clear if the staff had been poached from Gazprom, or had already left in the restructuring.