Iran says 'gas Opec' may take time
Tehran, February 19, 2008
Iran's oil minister renewed a call to set up an Opec-style grouping of gas producers but said such an initiative would take time, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.
The United States and the European Union have said creating a body for gas, resembling the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, would endanger global energy security and make room for price manipulation.
Analysts say contracts used in the gas trade may make it difficult to set up such a group.
"Talks are being held. Of course, that is a time-consuming task, because as you know when the oil Opec was established it took many years before it worked systematically," Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari told Iranian state radio.
"The gas producers and the countries that own gas resources should reach a compromise to establish a gas Opec. The ground is being prepared for that end," the minister added.
Nozari's remarks were monitored on Iranian radio by the BBC. State radio said joint meetings would be held with Russia to establish an organisation for gas exporting countries.
Iran, which sits on the world's second largest gas reserves, has previously raised the issue with Russia, which has the biggest reserves and is the world's biggest exporter.
Russia and Iran, along with other gas producers such as Qatar, Venezuela, Nigeria and Algeria, already meet as part of an informal club. Experts have said the gas forum is unlikely to become as influential as Opec because gas deals are done on a long-term basis, rather than the spot system by which oil is traded.
Some gas contracts run for more than 25 years and they include formulas for smoothing out spikes in energy prices.
The gas exporting nations forum met last year in Doha, but failed to reach any specific deal. The next session is expected to be held in Moscow in June.-Reuters