CIS Gas Cartel Could Come in April

Russia is planning to unite with other countries in the former Soviet Union to increase its clout in a planned OPEC-style natural gas cartel, Kommersant reported Monday.

Russia will make a formal proposal in April to establish an organization bringing together the national gas companies of countries including Kazakhstan and Belarus, the newspaper reported Monday, citing the body's draft charter.

Russia will then be able to use the group, with the Russian acronym MANNGO, to increase its weight within the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, Kommersant said. Iran wants to turn the forum into a cartel similar to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the newspaper reported.

MANNGO, which would have its headquarters in Moscow, would help provide fairer gas prices and transit fees within the former Soviet Union, said Oleg Zhilin, the vice president of the Russian Gas Society, Kommersant reported.

The forum, which was first held in 2001, does not have a charter, a clear membership system or any permanent representatives, the newspaper said.