Gas OPEC to Be Discussed Again in June

TEHRAN (FNA) – Gas-producing countries will discuss the idea of forming a “gas OPEC” along the lines of the existing oil cartel in June in Moscow, Qatar’s energy minister said on Friday.

“I think we will discuss it at the next meeting at ministerial level of the Gas Forum in June this year” in Moscow, Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said at a news conference at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

He said members of the existing Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) had appointed a “high expert” to look at the idea of a gas OPEC at a meeting in Doha in 2007. He will report his conclusions in Moscow.

Forming such an organization would not be a simple matter, however, he cautioned, not least because of the different ways that gas markets work around the world.

Talk of a cartel for gas gained momentum in 2006 when Europe’s two main natural gas suppliers, Gazprom of Russia and Algeria’s Sonatrach, signed a partnership accord.

Talk of an organization to control gas output and so prices – the idea has first been put forward by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei – has alarmed Western countries which rely heavily on imports to fuel their economies and heat homes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has the world’s largest gas reserves said last February a gas OPEC was “an interesting idea.”

Founded in 2001, the GECF is an informal organization grouping 15 countries. It includes Russia, Iran, Qatar, Venezuela and Algeria, which together control 72 percent of world gas reserves and 42 percent of production.

The 13-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was formed in 1960 and is the supplier of more than a third of world oil.

It controls oil prices by setting the output of its members, using a quota system that limits supply to the market.

With the exception of Russia, most of the leading gas producers are also OPEC members, such as Algeria, Iran, Qatar and Venezuela.

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