'Gas Opec' charter to be discussed at Tehran Ministerial meet

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Moscow, Apr 25 (UNI) World's leading gas producers will discuss the setting up of ''Gas Opec'' on the lines of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Tehran on April 28, chief of the Russia's Gas Society, Valery Yazev, has said.

''The Gas Exporting Countries Forum will hold a ministerial meeting in Iran's capital on April 28, where the charter of the so-called 'Gas Opec' will be discussed,'' Mr Yazev told RIA Novosti news agency.

He said there were two draft charters-- a tough one designed by Iran, while a more delicate version by Russia.

Iran has proposed to regulate the functioning and principles of the proposed Gas Opec on the pattern of the OPEC, while Russia's draft envisages fixing gas pricing mechanisms and gas transit routs.

''We should build an alliance of gas producers to formulate fair trading rules,'' The RGS chief said.

''Gas prices will not change, because they depend on the competitive situation with other energy prices,'' he added, The idea of establishing a Gas Opec was put forward by Russian President Vladimir Putin and was always supported by Iran.

The Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) held the first meeting in Tehran in 2001. The organisation has not yet adopted a charter and lacks a strict membership system.

It involves Venezuela, Iran, Libya, the UAE and Russia, and a number of other countries. Norway has the status of an observer.

The leading Russian business daily Kommersant said yesterday Russia and other major natural gas exporters could announce a cartel similar to Opec here in June.

Quoting analysts, it said even if the gas cartel was formed it would be unlikely to immediately achieve a comparable level of global influence to that enjoyed by the OPEC in the oil business due to the US and EU opposition.

UNI XC SYU PM1739

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