- TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran
and Russia could create an export group like the Organization for Petroleum
Exporting Countries, based on their command of the world's largest reserves
of natural gas, the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was
quoted Monday as saying.
- The idea of forming a group of producers to control prices
of natural gas has been raised before, but officials in gas-producing nations,
including Russia, have played down its prospects, partly because the gas
market is dominated by long- term contracts.
- "Iran and Russia can establish the structure for
an organization of gas cooperation like OPEC, as half of the world's gas
reserves are in Russia and Iran," Khamenei was quoted by state television
as saying. He was commenting during talks Sunday in Tehran with the Russian
Security Council secretary, Igor Ivanov.
- Russia is the No. 1 holder of gas reserves. Iran is No.
2. Iran's reserves are estimated to be at least 940 trillion cubic feet,
or 26.6 billion cubic meters, while Russian reserves are estimated at between
1,680 trillion to 2,360 trillion cubic feet.
- World reserves are estimated by industry experts at between
6,100 trillion and 7,000 trillion cubic feet.
- The European Union, which relies on Russia for about
a quarter of its gas imports, last week expressed concern that Russia and
Algeria, another major supplier of gas to the EU, might create a gas cartel
that could hurt EU consumers.
- The EU energy commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, called on
the two countries to clarify their plans.
- Russian officials have repeatedly denied any plan to
form a cartel, calling it undesirable and impractical. The Russian natural
gas monopoly Gazprom has said that its long-term contracts make such a
- Despite its large reserves, Iran has been slow to develop
exports, partly because U.S. sanctions hinder access by Tehran to the most
commonly used technology for turning liquefied natural gas into a product
that can be exported by ship.
- Algeria has also said talk of forming a group of natural
gas producers is premature.
- The Algerian energy and mines minister, Chakib Khelil,
said this month that the largest producing and exporting countries planned
to discuss the stability of natural gas deliveries to international markets
when they met in April in Qatar.