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By Samuel R. Avro on Dec 22, 2008 with no responses

Russia, Putin Host Meeting to Form ‘Gas OPEC’

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is set to host a meeting between the leading natural gas exporting nations in order to form a powerful policy bloc.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be hosting energy ministers from at least 11 natural gas exporting countries in a bid to strengthen their so-called “gas OPEC” cartel.

Moscow is seeking to bolster their informal club called the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), which includes members such as Algeria, Iran, Qatar and Venezuela.

“Maybe it’s a bright image, but the mechanisms of OPEC can’t be used on the gas market,” Alexander Medvedev, Russian energy giant Gazprom’s chief of exports, said last week. “In this case, it’s not necessary to make¬†comparisons.”

Four cities are competing to be the home of the cartel’s secretariat – St. Petersburg, Algiers, Tehran and Doha, Qatar.

During Putin’s presidency, from 2000 until May this year, he consolidated state control over Russia’s oil and gas industry with Gazprom taking the lead.

Gazprom signed a deal earlier this year with Iran and Qatar to coordinate natural gas prices and policies.

The global economic crisis has heightened Russia’s dependence on revenues from its oil and gas sectors as their currency has weakened in value.

The meeting is scheduled to take place Tuesday in Moscow.