Iran sees consensus to set up 'gas Opec'
Tehran, October 21, 2008
Iran's oil minister said on Tuesday there was a consensus to set up a 'gas Opec', speaking after tripartite talks with his Qatari counterpart and the head of Russia's Gazprom.
'We have made major decisions,' Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari told a news conference. 'There is a demand to form this gas Opec and there is a consensus to set up gas Opec.'
Russia, Iran and Qatar are ranked the first, second and third biggest holders of natural gas reserves in the world.
Europe and the United States have warned against such a grouping, saying it could pose a danger to global energy security and create room for price manipulation.
Major gas exporters have met informally for several years at the annual Gas Exporting Countries Forum, widely seen as a talking shop.
Iran wants to turn the forum into a more formal organisation akin to Opec, the 13-member grouping which makes output decisions that can sway the global oil price.
'This conference is a turning point to expand cooperation between Iran, Qatar and Russia,' Nozari said. 'A committee will be formed from senior officials from the three countries.'
Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller told the same news conference: 'One of the main responsibilities of this high ranking committee we are going to form is to review projects and implement joint projects. This will range from exploration, refining and selling gas.'
Qatar's Energy Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah said: 'God willing, in the next meeting of the gas exporting countries, they will affirm the establishment of the organisation.'
Russia, the world's largest gas exporter, had earlier hinted at its interest in the creation of an Opec-style gas group, working with Iran, Qatar, Venezuela, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia and Libya.
Russia's former president and current prime minister, Vladimir Putin, has said the 'gas Opec' idea is interesting, but requires deep analysis. - Reuters