Gas Producing Countries Pool Minds in Tehran

Gas Producing Countries Pool Minds in Tehran
Gas Producing Countries Pool Minds in Tehran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hosted eight heads of state and other high-ranking officials from the Gas Exporting Countries Forum member states during the Third GECF Summit in Tehran on Monday.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Iraq’s Fuad Masum, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Algeria’s Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal gathered for the high-level convention in Tehran’s Summit Conference Hall.

Abdalla Salem el-Badri, secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and his International Energy Forum counterpart Aldo Flores-Quiroga also attended the summit, Shana reported.

“The convention of the heads of state of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum is one of the most important energy events in the world, especially in the gas sector,” Rouhani said in his speech on Monday.

“The summit is aimed at finding solutions to maintain the collective interest of GECF members, expand intergovernmental cooperation in natural gas exploration, production and trade … and boost the forum’s position in the global energy arena.”

The Iranian president stressed that holding the world’s largest natural gas reserve, Iran has high capacity for gas production and export, adding that the country’s gas production capacity will top 1 billion cubic meters per day in two years.

Rouhani added that Iran’s strategy to raise gas output is based on investment in oil and gas fields and GECF states will have priority to develop the country’s rich hydrocarbon resources in the post-sanctions period.            

In a second test within a week for the Iranian government in reestablishing ties with the international community ahead of lifting the sanctions, major global oil and gas companies will convene in Tehran on Saturday for a conference in which the revised version of Iran’s long-awaited oil contracts will be officially unveiled.

The Russian president, who last visited Tehran in 2007 for a convention of the Caspian Sea littoral states, also addressed the summit.

“GECF members over the past 14 years have turned the forum into a prominent international organization and have defended their right in global gas markets,” Putin said.

Putin described close cooperation between producers and consumers as a key factor to achieve sustainable development in gas production and export. He estimated that global gas demand will rise by 32% to reach 5 trillion cubic meters a year, from 3.4 trillion cubic meters per annum.

“Russia plans to raise gas output to reach 128 billion cubic meters a year,” Putin said, adding that Moscow is targeting 13% of the global liquefied natural gas market by raising output to 60 million tons a year.

GECF Secretary-General Mohammad Hossein Adeli said the forum’s member states can supply the lion’s share of global demand for natural gas in the long run.

“GECF is key to cooperation of the world’s biggest gas producers,” he said.

Morales also said the South American country’s capital Sucre is willing to host the next GECF summit, which is expected to be held in 2017.

The heads of states of other GECF countries also addressed the summit on Monday and called for raising the GECF profile and global influence.

 Strategic Partner

In a meeting between Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and his Russian counterpart, Alexander Novak, on Sunday, the Iranian minister described Russia as a “long-term and strategic partner” for the Islamic Republic.

“The two countries can establish long-lasting ties in the oil and gas sector in the post-sanctions period … It is time to put into practice [the outcome of] negotiations,” he said, referring to ongoing Tehran-Moscow talks before and after the July 14 agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Zanganeh also slammed what he called “politicizing” the global gas market and said Iran and Russia, among other GECF members, have “condemned unilaterally-imposed sanctions on gas industry and GECF members” in the summit’s statement.

Novak had earlier said the summit was an opportunity to look beyond energy ties and explore intergovernmental issues.

Iranian officials also explored the prospect of oil and gas swap agreements with Russia, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan during the convention.

Established in Tehran in 2001, GECF is an intergovernmental organization of 11 of the world’s leading natural gas producers, namely Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

Iraq, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman and Peru have the status of observer members. Azerbaijan became an observer member on Saturday.

GECF members together control over 70% of the world’s natural gas reserves, 38% of the pipeline trade and 85% of the LNG production. The three largest reserve-holders in the GECF—Iran, Russia and Qatar—together hold about 57% of global gas reserves.

  Joint Statement

Ahead of Monday’s summit, GECF ministers adopted a joint statement during an extraordinary meeting on Saturday, which will be presented as a roadmap for reducing global emissions in the Paris climate conference.

The next GECF ministerial gathering is scheduled to be held in Doha, Qatar, in November 2016.

Issues and challenges in the gas sector, including gas and sustainable development, global demand for natural gas and its position against other fuels and the prospect of the global gas market in mid- and long-term were discussed during Saturday’s meeting.

The GECF ministers also discussed the forum’s budget and reappointed the sitting secretary-general, Iran’s Mohammad Hossein Adeli, for another two-year term.