Prime Minster Putin has extolled the virtues of Germany completing the Nord Stream pipeline in a meeting with former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Lukoil’s CEO has said that the company will drill three exploration wells in Africa, and hopes to expand internationally as Russia offers fewer domestic licenses. TNK-BP will pay out roughly 49% of its profits to shareholders this year, despite the crisis, according to the Moscow Times. Russia is inviting India to invest in a Siberian uranium plant in exchange for radioactive fuel. Gazprom has announced that its reserves at the end of 2008 were up by 11%. Reuters reports that despite rumours of a possible takeover, Sibir Energy has said it was not approached by TNK-BP. Russia will increase its crude oil export duty to $137.70 a metric ton as of May 1. Indian engineering company Larsen & Toubro Ltd. and Russia’s Atomstroyexport have made an agreement for nuclear power reactors. Prices of crude oil fell following a report that retail sales in the US dropped in March by 1.1%. France’s Total, China’s National Petroleum Corp and Petroleos de Venezuela are in talks to send Venezuelan oil to China.