Both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin welcomed the news that France’s Total is to pay $4 billion for a 12% share in Novatek. The deal ‘potentially brings more positives to Novatek than the other way around‘, says this FT blog analysis. Rosneft does not support TNK-BP’s latest plan to ‘act as a middleman‘ in the share-swap deal with BP. BP meanwhile says it has ‘real financial, practical and strategic concerns‘ about the proposal, under which TNK-BP would buy a 5% stake in BP and trade it for 10% of Rosneft. Russia’s February oil output almost broke the post-Soviet record, staying above Putin’s desired target output of 10 million barrels a day. Increasing demonstrations in Iran are driving up the price of oil, over speculation that instability could affect deliveries.