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22 Oct, 2008 01:02

Gas exporters agree deal for OPEC-style alliance

Russia, Iran and Qatar have agreed to form a powerful OPEC-style group for exporting gas. The consortium would control over 60% of the global natural gas reserves – and spark fears in the West that it could lead to higher prices.

The news comes after a meeting between Gazprom chairman Alexey Miller, Qatar Energy Minister Abdullah Ben Hamad Al-Attiya, and Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari.

“Great decisions have been taken at this meeting,” said Nozari. "The sides agreed at the Tuesday consultations on the earliest formation of this organisation and on drafting its charter.

“The negotiators underlined that this document is to be submitted at a coming meeting of the foreign ministers of member states of a forum of gas exporting countries.”

Talks about the creation of the group will send shivers down the spines of the United States and the European Union, which rely heavily on imports. The founding fathers of any such group would be Russia, Iran, Qatar, Venezuela and Algeria.

The United States and the EU fear an OPEC-style gas cartel would lead to a monopoly on supplies and higher prices.

It's estimated Russia holds around a quarter of the global natural gas reserves.