If Gazprom’s proposed price hikes are approved, its average wholesale price could rise to $135 per cubic meters before VAT, a move that energy sector representatives are worried about. Gazprom’s Shtokman Development project has still not won the tax breaks it is requesting. ExxonMobil has put its 78 of its 680 French gas stations up for sale. Ukraine, currently seeking to pay over $150 less per thousand cubic meters of gas from Russia, is hoping the price dispute will be solved by the end of May, after Vladimir Putin’s inauguration. Putin has named Rosneft’s vice president, Pavel Fedorov, as deputy energy minister. BP is currently in talks aimed at boosting production at the Kirkuk oil field in Iraq, where production is currently at a three-month high. Lukoil and Samsung have signed a $998 million agreement to develop the country’s West Qurna-2 field. Rosatom says it is on schedule with the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. ONGC Videsh, a subsidiary of India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp, has sold a cargo of Russian Sokol crude to BP at a premium of about $7 a barrel above current benchmarks. Barack Obama has responded to critics of his energy policies, defending himself against accusations that his administration is ‘suppressing domestic oil production’. His support of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas ‘will make only a marginal difference to the cost of fuel for American motorists’, says the FT. A group of 11,000 Nigerians will make a legal claim today against Royal Dutch Shell over two 2008 oil spills.