France's Total is ready to invite Russia's Gazprom to join its projects in Africa and elsewhere, the head of Total's Russia unit said on Thursday, a day after striking a major Russian gas deal. We are very open to discussing with a company like Gazprom to have developments abroad including, of course, in Africa, Pierre Nergararyan, general director of Total E&P Russie, told reporters on Thursday.

I think it is very good for Russia if we think internationally. That is to say, the international companies will have partnerships in Russia, but the Russian companies have to also be thinking about their activity abroad. It is a win-win situation, he added.

His comments shed light on what could come next in the exchange of preferential deals and favours that has secured Total's position as Russia's favoured foreign energy partner.

In the past week, Total has struck a major deal to develop a large gas field in Russia with Novatek (NVTK.MM: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), and has sold a stake in a Dutch refinery to Russia's LUKOIL (LKOH.MM: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), trumping a bid from the largest U.S. refiner, Valero (VLO.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz). [ID:nLJ579651]

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also welcomed Total's bid to take part in the future stages of the giant Shtokman development in Russia's far north after a meeting with Total Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie on Wednesday.

Total is one of the biggest energy companies in Africa with large investments in Nigeria, Kenya, Libya and other countries. (Editing by Christopher Johnson)