Natural gas exporters plan to form cartel

Moscow, March 19:

Five of the world’s biggest natural gas producers are to set up a gas market cartel in Doha next month, Russia’s Kommersant daily reported on Monday.

Citing Arab diplomatic sources, Kommersant said a meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in the Qatari capital on April 9 “will be a good time to announce the creation of a genuine gas cartel.” The sources were cited as saying that “political agreement for the upcoming diplomatic move is already close to completion.”

The founding members of the cartel would be Algeria, Iran, Qatar, Russia and Venezuela, Kommersant said. The creation of the GECF in 2001 led to speculation that it could become a gas market version of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel.

But experts are sceptical about the possibility of a world gas cartel because of the difficulties in transporting natural gas and the fact that gas is predominantly sold through long-term contracts.