Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has asserted the necessity of creating a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East, Ria-Novosti reports. The Minister also said that international sanctions on Iran could be relaxed if Iran makes ‘real positive steps’ to address concerns about its nuclear program. TNK-BP has offered to buy a 5% stake in BP for $8.16 billion in an attempt to resolve the dispute over BP’s proposed deal with Rosneft, says Reuters. TNK-BP can raise the financing it may need to replace the U.K. explorer in an alliance with state-run company Rosneft, Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Muir has claimed. The net profit of the joint venture increased by 17% in 2010 to a record high of $5.8 billion due to increasing production and rising oil prices. On a less optimistic note for the partnership, it has announced it may close the Lisichansk refinery in Ukraine as it is unable to compete with cheaper oil products from neighboring Belarus. Find out here why Gazprom winning the bid for the Kovykta gas field victory could be considered ‘a lesson’ for BP shareholders. This article considers Singapore’s new status as a trading hub for liquefied natural gas, solidified by rising demand in China and India.