Energy Blast – Jan 2, 2012

According to the Washington Post, Iran said Saturday it had proposed a new round of six-party talks on its nuclear program.  Reuters reports that US President Barack Obama has signed into law a defense funding bill that imposes sanctions on financial institutions engaging with Iran’s central bank.  In a sign that the Iranian regime is undeterred by the sanctions, Tehran has announced a nuclear fuel breakthrough and test-fired a new radar-evading medium-range missile in the Gulf.  The European Union is still mulling the possibility of expanding sanctions; a decision is expected by the end of January, says this article.   Having gained the necessary approval from Turkey to pursue the South Stream pipeline, Prime Minister Putin has apparently urged Gazprom to expedite its construction, in what has been seen as an attempt to exert pressure on Ukraine, currently the major transit nation for Russia.  Ukraine values its gas transportation system at $20 billion, says Ria-Novosti.  Putin’s government has launched an investigation into the financial affairs of oil pipeline monopoly Transneft in an attempt to thwart accusations, famously made by anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, that the company engages in fraudulent dealings.  According to Energy Ministry figures, oil output in Russia reached a new post-Soviet high of 10.27 million barrels per day last year, up from 10.15 million bpd in 2010.