MADRID: The proposal for a gas OPEC that would group the world s biggest gas exporters as a cartel took several knocks this week at a leading energy conference as key producers backed away from the idea.
To begin with, I think putting the word gas OPEC was a mistake, Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari told delegates at the World Petroleum Congress on Wednesday.
It was not supposed to be any organization of that sort. It was supposed to be a forum for different exporting countries to cooperate.
On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky told delegates: We don t want to speak about a cartel organization that would set prices with gas quotas. Absolutely not.
He said the idea was not to have a cartel like OPEC, adding we don t talk about such a structure.
Both officials stressed that the idea was for gas exporters to meet together to simply share information and ideas about technology.
I think it is no problem to have a forum for gas exporting countries and this forum is going to be for cooperation on technical experience to be exchanged between members – and nothing else, Nozari said through a translator.
The idea for a gas OPEC, first put forward by Iran, gained momentum in 2006 when Europe’s two main natural gas suppliers, Gazprom of Russia and Algeria’s Sonatrach, signed a partnership accord.
It appeared to gain political backing from former Russia president Vladimir Putin who called it an interesting proposition and from Algerian leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
European officials in particular were alarmed by the plan due to their dependence on gas imports from Russia and Algeria but experts have suggested a gas cartel would be impossible to create.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries groups 13 crude exporters that produce about 40 percent of world oil. They control their output through a production quota system that seeks to influence prices.
Gas exporters are already grouped together in the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). -AFP