Sberbank has lent Gazprom $3 billion to buy back a stake in its oil division from Italian company Eni. Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko says that a deal will soon be reached between Moscow and Sofia over the much-disputed South Stream pipeline, in anticipation of Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev’s visit to Moscow. An energy conference has recommended that European governments inject the Nabucco pipeline with cash and contracts if Europe is to reduce dependence on Russian gas. Turkmen President, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, has called for resistance to ‘the preordained geography of pipeline routes’. A senior U.S. diplomat has said that the pipeline blast in Turkmenistan highlighted the need for diversification of export routes. The US Envoy for Eurasian Energy has said that Iran could profit more from its energy reserves if it were to improve diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. North Korea has begun to extract plutonium at its nuclear plant, Reuters reports. Shell and BP may post the most substantial drop in profits in five years as crude oil prices have fallen. OPEC says that oil prices could rocket as the recession puts the brake on exploration.