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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Pushes for Gas Cartel

Algeria and Russia's energy ministers said in talks Monday that the two countries, suppliers of most of Europe's natural gas imports, should cooperate on gas issues as their key markets are liberalized.

Energy Minister Igor Yusufov proposed the creation of a Russian-Algerian-Norwegian gas working group to liaise with the European Union to his Algerian counterpart, Chakib Khelil, an Energy Ministry statement said.

Khelil told reporters he supported the idea. "We have discussed the possibilities of organizing a round table including Norway, Russia and Algeria to broaden the dialogue between producers and consumers," he said.

Gazprom has repeatedly slammed the liberalization of European gas markets to defend its long-term supply contracts against spot sales. The gas monopoly has said it can forecast revenues only on the basis of long-term deals and that it will not be able to invest in developing new gas fields if it has to rely on spot contracts.

The EU's liberalization obliges European countries to gradually open their gas markets to independent suppliers to increase competition and bring down prices.

Khelil said he wanted more Russian oil firms to be involved in oil exploration in Algeria and that he planned to hold talks with No. 1 producer LUKoil.

"We currently have 10 new oil exploration blocks and five producing fields up for bidding, and we hope Russian companies will offer their bids," he said.