Oranto Petroleum, Nigeria’s oil and gas exploration company, is working out a partnership agreement with Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft to develop 21 oil assets across Africa, an Oranto official disclosed at an economic forum in St. Petersburg on Thursday.

The two companies expect to sign a memorandum of understanding on Friday before the projects will start, the official said.

“Oranto is planning a big cooperation with Rosneft, that collaboration is going to include upstream, midstream and downstream in Africa. We’re looking at 21 oil assets in 17 African countries,” the official told S&P Global Platts.

“We are looking at how Africa is going to be a big part of Russian investment,” the official said.

Rosneft does not have a significant presence in Africa except for a 30-percent stake in the giant Zohr gas field offshore Egypt in the Mediterranean, as well as some prospects in Mozambique.

This could be a big move for Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, as it seeks to expand its limited footprint in the continent which boasts of holding more than 120 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

There are fears, however, that U.S. sanctions on Russia could affect the potential cooperation, according to the Oranto official.

“For us bringing Russia into Africa is really important and having Russian companies in Africa is going to be amazing…,” the official told Platts, adding that U.S. sanctions on Russia won’t be a problem for the Nigerian-Russian cooperation because transactions would be made either in Nigeria’s currency, the naira, or in Russian rubles.

“Rosneft has great technology and if Rosneft comes to Africa and works in Africa it means that they are bringing technology to Africa. They will be transferring knowledge to Africa and developing Africa,” the official from Oranto said.

Oranto Petroleum and its sister company, Atlas Petroleum International, are Nigeria’s largest privately-held, Africa-focused exploration and production group.

The companies together have 22 oil and gas licenses in 11 jurisdictions in Africa, including producing assets in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.