Workers fix wires on a wire pole along a road on March 31, 2006 in Beijing, China.Try as it might to outrun market forces, China’s decision to hike electricity prices from June 1 shows that even the mighty mandarins in Beijing cannot ignore basic laws of supply and demand. They finally flinched late on Monday, announcing a roughly 3 percent increase in power prices for non-residential users in a move to combat looming blackouts by stimulating more electricity production and discouraging consumption.

BP reported a significant drop in the costs related to last year’s devastating Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in the first quarter as the UK oil group sought to rebuild its oil and gas exploration operations.

The company, which last week launched legal claims against three companies involved with the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig which blew up killing 11 men, said non-operating costs related to the Gulf of Mexico disaster were $384m in the three-month period to the end of March compared to more than $1bn in the fourth quarter. The total charge last year was $40.9bn.

Shares in Rosneft were up 1.7  per cent on Wednesday, boosted by a buyback plan that is widely seen in Russia as preparation for the state-controlled group’s planned controversial stock- swap with BP.The modest $200m stock buyback announced late on Tuesday is hardly a game-changer in the context of the multi-billion dollar dispute raging around the proposed Rosneft-BP deal and the opposition generated from BP’s existing Russian partner, AAR. But, given the timing, it looks like Rosneft is increasing the pressure to try to secure a deal.

Bob Dudley, BP chief executive, and Vladmir Putin, Russian prime minister, when the BP-Rosneft deal was announced in January 2011

By Stefan Wagstyl and Catherine Belton

Rosneft’s decision on Wednesday to give BP another month to try to complete their controversial cooperation plan gives everybody involved a breathing space.

But such is the acrimony between BP, its existing Russian partners led by oligarch Mikhail Fridman, and warring Kremlin clans,  that it’s unclear a deal can be done. Perhaps it can be completed only when the Moscow political temperature subsides after next year’s presidential election.

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