According to the Moscow Times, Urals crude oil traded at above $100 a barrel for the second day in a row Thursday for the first time since the economic recovery increased demand. The launch of the mammoth Arctic Shtokman gas field in Russia’s north-west may be postponed to 2018, due to the development and use of shale gas in the U.S., precipitating lower demand for natural gas. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko have reportedly signed an agreement assigning the U.S. Geological Survey to assess potential energy resources, principally the shale gas reserves, in Ukraine. Gazprom is reportedly hoping to increase natural gas trade in the United States by up to 50% this year as it embarks upon its plans to conquer the US market. European Union officials are, according to Reuters, pushing for a merger of the strategic ITGI and TAP gas pipeline projects to help secure supplies from Central Asia. The Moscow Times says that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has insisted that government ministries should start purchasing fuel on commodity exchanges in order to ‘protect consumers’ interests’.