The Independent reports that Gulf Arab states have been engaged in secret talks with Russia, China, Japan and France to replace the US dollar with a basket of currencies in the trading of oil: ‘This sounds like a dangerous prediction of a future economic war between the US and China over Middle East oil’. Saudi Arabia’s central bank chief has vociferously denied these claims, says the Washington Post. An unlikely venture for Gazprom: the company apparently plans to start a chain of fast-food and supermarket outlets. It is likely that the gas giant will recommence gas purchases from Turkmenistan this month or next, following a long suspension due to April’s pipeline explosion. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko will postpone the electorate-displeasing move of raising domestic gas prices until after the Jan. 17 presidential election, despite a promise to the International Monetary Fund. Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has complained about what he views as Russia’s practice of unfairly excluding Minsk from accessing Russia’s mammoth oil and gas resources. The Shtokman Development has announced a tender for archaeological works in Teriberka, the location for the future Shtokman LNG plant.