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BP to buy back £5.2bn in shares.

Combination of Rosneft and TNK-BP would give $10bn in synergies.

BP has said it willl buy back £5.2 bn in shares, giving shareholders back the money they invested in a venture in Russia.

The oil producer said it  "expected to return to BP shareholders an amount equivalent to the value of the company's original investment in TNK-BP".

BP, along with the Russian oil producer Rosneft are planning to work on a series of projects in Arctic islands region.

The move comes as Rosneft closed its $55bn deal to buy BP’s Russian joint venture, TNK-BP.

Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft, said the two companies were working on the details of an offshore venture in the Arctic and would team up to develop Rosneft’s tight oil reserves in Siberia as well as fuel marketing ventures.

“We are currently choosing projects. We will definitely work with BP offshore . . . and take advantage of their experience and competence,” Sechin added.

Despite Rosneft’s exploration deals with rivals ExxonMobil, Eni and Statoil, BP still has opportunities to work with Rosneft in the Arctic, said Sechin.

The expanded company is expected to produce 4.2m to 4.3m barrels a day in 2013 and generate revenues of $160bn.

Bob Dudley, CEO of BP, said the closure of the TNK-BP takeover was a historic day for BP in Russia, adding that the deal gave the company a wonderful opportunity to forge a new partnership with a great Russian oil company”.

Rosneft has 41 oil and gas licences in the Arctic islands region.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.