Further to yesterday’s blog, it has now been confirmed that Shell is being forced by the Russian government to hand over its controlling stake Sakhalin-2 after months of pressure by Moscow.

The move will provoke fresh fears about the Kremlin’s willingness to use the country’s growing strength in natural resources as a political weapon.

It also raises fears about the endangered gray whales in the area, as there will be less leverage for campaigners with the Kremlin compared to Shell.

The moves will also alarm many investors in the City of London as Shell and other share prices are hit, but the news will increase EU ministers’ concerns about energy security.

The Russian authorities are also threatening BP over alleged environmental violations on a Siberian field in what is seen as a wider attempt to seize back assets handed over to foreign companies when energy prices were low.