Russian oil producer Lukoil is planning to pour $480 million of investment into Uzbek natural-gas projects to profit from higher international prices. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will pay visits to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales tomorrow, in a bid ‘to regain lost influence in Latin America through energy and arms deals‘. An agreement between Russia and Venezuela on the huge Junin 6 oil field was signed today. Environmentalists are unhappy with US President Barack Obama’s plans to open up America’s East Coast to oil and gas explorations, despite many applauding the potential outcomes of cheap energy and job creation. TNK-BP is planning to increase significantly its geological surveys and the volume of its exploration in 2010. The International Energy Forum is calling for transparent oil markets as a measure to curb price volatility, as the price of oil rises above $84 a barrel. South Africa has announced an agreement to form a state-owned mining company.