Doha: Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil said on 8 April that a proposal to form an OPEC-like cartel by gas exporting nations was still only an “idea” which may be discussed at a meeting this week in Doha.
“This is still an idea that has not reached a level that makes us say that gas producing and exporting countries would form an organisation,” Khelil told AFP in Doha.
“I don’t know if anyone has made a proposal” to discuss the idea, he said. “If someone proposes it (at the meeting), we will discuss it.”
Qatar, which aspires to become the world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), is to host the two-day sixth ministerial meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) from 9 April.
The possibility of a gas cartel has been floated in recent weeks, mainly by Iran, which is a member of GECF, an informal structure grouping 15 nations that was founded in 2001.
“The GECF countries are cooperating and coordinating in the fields of data and projects and we will continue on the same path,” Khelil said.
Indonesian Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the idea of a gas cartel was not yet a “concrete proposal” as the natural gas industry was “regional” in nature and differed from that of oil.
“Well, I just want to see if there is any common objective ... the idea (of a gas cartel) is not a concrete proposal,” he told reporters.
“Gas is not like oil. It is different in the sense that its market is regional. For instance, my market in Indonesia and Australia is probably different from the Russian, the Algerian and others,” Yusgiantoro said.
“We may have to look into more details and scrutinise further the idea of a more cohesive organisation,” said the minister.
The forum includes Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Qatar, Russia and Venezuela, which together control 72% of the world’s gas reserves and 42% of production.
The idea of a “gas OPEC” gained momentum in August last year when Europe’s two main natural gas suppliers, Russia’s Gazprom and Algeria’s Sonatrach, signed a partnership accord.
It was given a further boost in February when Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country’s massive gas resources account for nearly 30% of known world reserves and 20% of production, said it was “interesting.”
But Russia’s Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said on Friday that Moscow would never take part in such an organisation.