Gas group to discuss Charter in Moscow

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Moscow, Nov 15 (UNI) The Ministers of the world's leading gas producers will meet in Moscow on December 23 to discuss the Founding Charter of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).

''The final draft of the GECF Charter should be agreed on at a high-level Gas Exporting Countries Forum commission due on November 26,'' the Russian Energy Ministry said yesterday.

Russia will be represented at the meeting by Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko.

The GECF was established in Tehran in 2001. It comprises Algeria, Bolivia, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, the UAE, and Venezuela.

Equatorial Guinea and Norway have observer status.

Currently, member-countries control about 73 per cent of the world's gas reserves and 42 per cent of its production.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that fears by Western consumers over price manipulation by the cartel were ungrounded.

''We are aware of the concerns and fears expressed by some energy consumers. There are absolutely no grounds for such fears. We are not establishing a cartel, nor are we striking any cartel deals,'' Mr Putin said..

''However, energy producers, as well as consumers, have the right to and must coordinate their decisions, exchange information, and do their best to ensure uninterrupted hydrocarbon supplies on global markets,'' he stressed, adding that uninterrupted supplies and reasonable prices were the main objectives of the group.

UNI XC RJ RN1222

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