President Vladimir Putin has pulled out of a sustainable development summit beginning today in Rio de Janeiro, sending Dmitry Medvedev in his place – ‘a further blow to the credibility of the summit’. Oil prices have hit an 8-month low, just over $80pb – a reflection of ‘risk aversion’, suggested one analyst. Brent crude is at an 18-month low at around $90pb. This is bad news for Russia: ‘lower oil prices mean that Russia falls dangerously short of balancing its budget – which for 2012, needs crude at around $120 a barrel.’ Igor Sechin has announced that Rosneft will double its dividend payout for last year, to make shareholder returns competitive with those of U.S. majors. BP shareholders are calling for radical management action to help it move on from the Deepwater spill and end quarrels with its Russian partners. Mikhail Fridman is meeting investors in London seeking support for his plan to buy half of BP’s TNK-BP stake. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a priority Russian gas supply to Japan and China at the moment. Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and BP have spent almost $1 billion combined to secure drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Statoil says North America will remain its strongest growth region for the next decade.