Analysts have concluded that ‘oil tsar’ Igor Sechin will remain in a strong position following any government reshuffling, after Vladimir Putin commended Sechin’s ‘professionalism and his grip, for getting the job done’. Russian gas producer Novatek has announced a 2011 net income rise of 45%. Iran is seeking ways around oil sanctions imposed by the U.S., ‘offering special deals to allies China and India, delivering oil to clients and swapping it for gold and grain.’ Russia, meanwhile, is planning to propose that these sanctions be eliminated. Mongolia’s plans to develop the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit have stalled amid ‘political jousting’, with U.S., Russian and Chinese companies all aiming to take part in the project. Syria’s deputy oil minister has left his post to join the anti-government revolt, saying that he did not want to die ‘serving a criminal regime’. BHP Billiton’s efforts to cash in on the U.S. shale gas boom are being hit by a price plunge.