Apparently Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy have agreed to ‘gradual’ progress towards a complete merger, once they have established a joint venture. Gazprom expects larger natural gas exports in 2010 than those of last year, Ria-Novosti reports. In an attempt to diminish the budget deficit, the government may reinstate an export tax on 22 east Siberian oil fields from July and drop state-run Rosneft’s Vankor project from the select group next year. The head of the Union of Oil and Gas Producers of Russia, Yuri Shafranik, has told an energy conference that Russia’s potential in the fuel and energy sector ‘should be under aegis of the state’. The first batch of Russian gas to Europe across the Baltic Sea has been transported this week. The Telegraph forecasts that the BP oil spill could cost the company as much as $3 billion. Is the shale gas glut an obstacle for Nabucco, which is planning to auction 50% of its capacity next month? Shell is establishing a stronghold in the North American shale gas sphere. Hungary’s government is considering buying the stake that Russia’s Surgutneftegaz holds in the nation’s largest refiner, Mol Nyrt. Rio Tinto is still fuming about the new tax Australia has proposed which would, the company argues, make the government a ‘silent partner’ in business dealings.