Report: Russia could head new Mideast gas cartel

Friday, April 6, 2007

WASHINGTON Russia and Middle East countries could decide to form a gas cartel a new report warns.

Algeria, Iran, Qatar and Russia have scheduled a meeting of the 15-member Gas-Exporting Countries Forum in Doha on April 9, Middle East Newsline reported.

Industry analysts said the session could result in a decision to form a cartel that would control gas supplies to the West.

Russian officials said Moscow had no plans to establish a cartel.

"If created, such an organization would be dominated by Russia, which is the world's largest reserve holder, producer, exporter, and transiter of gas," the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation said in a report.

"As a 'new Saudi Arabia of gas,' Russia could shape a gas cartel's behavior to an extent similar to Saudi Arabia's dominant role in OPEC, though with different methods."

The foundation said any gas cartel would not have the same influence over prices as OPEC. Jamestown pointed out that gas supply contracts have usually been long-term.

Russia's Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said Russia will not sign an accord creating a pricing cartel or "gas OPEC," Bloomberg News reported Friday.

Copyright 2007 East West Services, Inc.

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