Gas Cartel Could Be Formed in June

Russia is considering an Iranian proposal to set up an OPEC-style cartel that would include the world's largest natural gas producers, Kommersant reported Thursday.

A final decision on a charter to strengthen the clout of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum will be made when the group holds its annual summit in Moscow in June, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified Russian officials.

Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky received Iran's draft charter at a meeting with other forum members in Doha, Qatar, on Oct. 28. The proposal is "similar in many ways" to the charter of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, a Gazprom official told the newspaper.

The Foreign Ministry opposes the Iranian proposal because of negative implications for the country's international relations, Kommersant said, and the Economic Development and Trade Ministry is against it because the economic advantages for Russia are not clear.

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