The Moscow District Federal Arbitration Court has ordered oil company Russneft to pay $8.1 billion in back taxes. The amount includes 17 billion rubles in tax debts for 2005 and 3 billion rubles for 2003 and the first half of 2004. The decision “could open the door for Basic Element, owned by Kremlin-friendly tycoon Oleg Deripaska, which is bidding for Russneft, to acquire the company cheaper.” As a preliminary step to the formation of “a Gas OPEC” out of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, Russia is preparing to create an organization of that type within the CIS following a proposal made by a lobbying group of giant Gazprom. More on a potential ‘Gas OPEC’. The countries involved will discuss the idea of forming such a group during their next meeting in June. Gazprom is moving aggressively into retail natural-gas markets in Europe, with plans to sell gas and power directly to consumers. One newspaper believes that Gazprom managed to take control of Serbia’s state-run oil and gas company “for a bargain price.” The company has signed a cooperation agreement with Austrian oil and gas company OMV. It is being reported that the company brokered the deal to ensure that From Russia, the controversial exhibition of Russian and French paintings which features Matisse’s Dance, went ahead at London’s Royal Academy.
Sinopec, China’s top oil company, plans to reduce its crude oil imports from Ural in Russia by one third.Former top Russian spy, Sergei Tretyakov, says his agents helped the Russian government steal nearly $500 million from the U.N.’s oil-for-food program in Iraq before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.World EnergyChina Coal Energy attracted $433 billion of subscriptions to its Shanghai IPO, the third largest amount recorded for a domestic Chinese offer.Japanese and South Korean utilities are scrambling to get details on China’s move to ban coal exports for the next two months.World demand for oil and gas will outstrip supply within seven years, according to the chief executive at Royal Dutch Shell.Iran plans to give half of the 40% stake held by France’s Total in the stalled Pars LNG project to potential buyers of the liquefied natural gas.PHOTO: A general view shows the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, about 1,215 km south of Tehran, in this February 26, 2006 file photo. Iran has received the eighth and last consignment of nuclear fuel from Russia for the Islamic Republic’s first atomic power plant, the official IRNA news agency reported. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/Files