Robert Dudley, TNK-BP’s CEO, has refused to step down despite demands that he do so. During his interview with Le Monde over the weekend, Vladimir Putin said that he warned BP years ago about the risks of setting up the TNK-BP partnership with a group of Russian billionaires. “Several years ago they [BP] created a joint venture splitting the firm 50-50. When they did it, and I was present at the signing ceremony, I told them: ‘Don’t do it. Agree to one of you having a controlling stake’“. The prime minister also said that Russian oil output would rise over the next few years after the country adopts tax breaks for producers developing remote fields. While Putin has reaffirmed that he does not believe Iran is seeking nuclear arms, France has called on Iran to open its nuclear installations to international scrutiny to clear suspicions about its nuclear ambitions. Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council ordered the government to rescind a decision to break off an energy exploration and extraction contract in the Black Sea with US firm Vanco Energy. Imperial Energy is today expected to announce a surprise discovery in Russia. Two US senators are seeking to curb excessive speculation in the oil market by giving the American futures regulator the power to intervene in trading activities that occur outside its own legal jurisdiction. A joint venture of Gazprom and LUKOIL has discovered a large off-shore oil and gas condensate field in the Caspian Sea.