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Oil prices fall sharply after Iran nuclear deal

Oil prices fell sharply today after world powers struck a landmark deal with Iran to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of international sanctions.

Oil prices fell sharply on Monday after Iran and six world powers sealed a deal curbing its nuclear programme.
Oil prices fell sharply on Monday after Iran and six world powers sealed a deal curbing its nuclear programme. Credit: Reuters

While Iran will not be allowed to increase its oil sales for six months, any easing of Middle East tensions tends to lead to lower crude prices.

Read: Can the Iran nuclear deal become a lasting accord?

British oil worker kidnapped in Indonesia released

A British oil worker kidnapped in Indonesia has been released, the Foreign Office has said.

Engineer Malcolm Primrose, 61, was ambushed by an armed gang as he travelled home from a drilling site in the Aceh region on Tuesday, local reports said.

The Foreign Office said that the 61-year-old is "safe but tired" after his release, which followed a police search of the local area with the assistance of soldiers.

No arrests are known to have been made at this stage.

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Number 10: Spill costs 'ultimately an issue for BP'

Downing Street said that Mr Cameron has not spoken with BP about their concern about the rising compensation costs from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, nor did he raise the issue with president Obama or other US authorities during his visit last week. A Number 10 spokesperson said:

Ultimately this is an issue for BP. The Prime Minister will always listen to the concerns of British businesses and consider any issues raised.

Read: BP 'urges PM to help' with Gulf of Mexico oil spill costs

'Fictitious' compensation claims 'putting BP at risk'

British Petroleum has warned that millions of dollars of "fictitious" compensation claims for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill are putting the company at risk.

A logo is seen at a BP fuel station in London. Credit: REUTERS/Toby Melville

BP has sought an injunction to stop payouts to US companies it argues are claiming fraudulent or inflated losses from its £5.4 billion compensation pot.

An appeal document by the group argues that businesses in the US have been handed millions of dollars for "non-existent, artificially calculated losses", according to reports.

BP warned in the court filing that it will be "irreparably harmed" unless the compensation system is reformed.

BP 'urges PM to help' with Gulf of Mexico oil spill costs

British Petroleum has urged David Cameron to step in over the company's rising compensation costs for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, according to the BBC.

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Credit: REUTERS / US Coast Guard

The company feels its financial recovery is at risk due to these costs and BP also worry that they could become a takeover target, the report says.

BP, who reportedly feel the compensation system is being abused, has urged the Prime Minister to bring up this issue with the US government, the BBC suggests.

The 2010 disaster killed 11 oil rig workers and around four million barrels of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico.

In 2012, BP agreed to pay £5.4 billion in compensation but the company now expects that cost to be higher.

Breakdown of the petrol price at UK pumps

The price of petrol at UK pumps has increased significantly since 2004, but the majority of that is down to tax.

In 2004 a litre of petrol cost, on average, 80p - 59p of which was tax. In 2012 the average price jumped to £1.36 as tax rose to 81p:

A breakdown of UK petrol prices in 2004 and 2012.
A breakdown of UK petrol prices in 2004 and 2012. Credit: ITV News

But despite the price of petrol increasing in the UK, the Office of Fair Trading found that - pre-tax - the country has some of the cheapest road fuel prices in Europe:

How the UK's petrol prices compare with the rest of Europe.
How the UK's petrol prices compare with the rest of Europe. Credit: Office of Fair Trading

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OFT defends investigation after raids

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has defended its investigation in to petrol pricing saying that it lacked information:

The Office of Fair Trading carried out a call for information on UK road fuels, the findings of which were published in January of this year.

As part of this call for information, the OFT asked for evidence on whether speculation or manipulation of oil spot and futures markets or inaccurate oil or wholesale road fuel price reporting could be leading to higher pump prices.

The OFT stated these issues could potentially raise serious concerns but no credible evidence was submitted to the OFT in response to the call for information.

The European Commission has confirmed on May 14, commission officials carried out several unannounced inspections in a number of countries at the premises of companies active in and providing services to the crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels sectors.

The investigation is being conducted by and is a matter for the European Commission, and the OFT is currently assisting the commission with its inspections in the UK.

– Office of Fair Trading statement

In January the OFT found that price rises were driven by tax rises and the hike in the oil price, and said it found "very limited evidence" that retailers were not passing on drops in the wholesale price to drivers quickly enough.

MP blasts OFT for 'limp-wristed and lettuce-like' inquiry

A Conservative MP blasted an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) inquiry into petrol prices as "limp-wristed and lettuce-like" in the wake of price-fixing allegations.

Harlow MP Robert Halfon, who has campaigned for cuts to duty and greater transparency in the market, said despite the Commons unanimously calling for a thorough probe into petrol pricing, the regulator failed to spot any of the allegations currently under review.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey giving a statement in the House of Commons on petrol pricing.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey giving a statement in the House of Commons on petrol pricing. Credit: PA Wire

Mr Halfon said: "Do you not agree that what happened was the OFT carried out a limp-wristed, lettuce-like inquiry when they should have done a full 18-month inquiry into what has been going on?"

Energy Secretary Ed Davey defended the OFT as an "independent body, a strong body", which has powers to determine its own investigations.

Mr Davey made a statement updating MPs on the launch of a European Commission investigation into oil companies BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Norwegian company Statoil.

Oil price fixing raids are 'worrying news for motorists'

RAC technical director David Bizley said the allegations were "worrying news for motorists" who are already suffering due to the high cost of keeping a vehicle:

The Office of Fair Trading inquiry concluded at the end of January that the UK fuel market was operating fairly and not against the best interests of motorists, and therefore that a Competition Commission investigation was not needed.

Motorists will be very interested to see what comes of these raids. Whatever happens the RAC will continue to campaign for greater transparency in the UK fuel market and for a further reduction in fuel duty to stimulate economic growth.

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