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Monday, January 28, 2008

“Gas OPEC” Drawing Closer

Jan. 28, 2008 - Kommersant - As a preliminary step to the formation of “a gas OPEC” out of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, Russia is preparing to create an organization of that type within the CIS. That idea was first proposed by the Russian Gas Society, a Gazprom lobbying group in the State Duma headed by MP Valery Yazev, in 2006. When the commission of the Eurasian Economic Community meets in St. Petersburg at the beginning of April, Russia will introduce a charter for the International Association of National Nongovernmental Gas Organization (Russian abbreviation MANNGO). Although Russia has not yet officially approved the “gas OPEC” idea, which was originally suggested by Iran, this move will strengthen its position within the future cartel. MANNGO will be based in Russia, since it has the largest natural gas reserves and most extensive transport network, said vice president of the Russian gas Society Oleg Zhilin. The organization will be governed by a Moscow-based secretariat headed by a general secretary appointed to a three-year term. The purpose of the new organization, as described in the charter, is “the creation of conditions for the fair distribution of income from gas exports among producing and transporting countries and the formation of common investment sources for the development of the natural gas sector, including maintenance of the existing system of gas trunk lines in the MANNGO member states” and “development of recommendations for harmonization of the legislation of MANNGO member states in the areas of exploration, production, processing, transportation, storage and sales of gas.” The organization can be founded with two or three member states. Kazakhstan and Tajikistan have agreed to discuss the charter and Belarus is examining it.

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