Gas Exporters Group Discussed Forming a Bank, New Head Says

Members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum discussed setting up a common bank to finance joint investment projects, the new head of the group said.

The bank was discussed at an earlier meeting of the 13-nation group and “has not been followed up recently,” Iran’s Mohammad Hossein Adeli said in interview today from the group’s headquarters in Qatar’s capital Doha.

“The idea of helping each other in investment, in financing projects, and in long-term plans for investment is something that has already come up,” he said.

Adeli, who replaced Russia’s Leonid Bokhanovsky as the secretary general of the GECF at the start of the year, is seeking to foster closer cooperation just as international rivalry increases. Qatari liquefied natural gas is competing with Russian pipeline exports in Europe. LNG shipments planned for the second half of this decade from the U.S. may disrupt established suppliers to Asia.

Russia and Qatar are the two largest exporters in the GECF, according to data compiled by BP plc. The group, whose other members are Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Oman, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, controls 62 percent of world gas reserves, according to its website.

While the GECF has sometimes been dubbed the “gas OPEC,” it hasn’t sought to influence prices by adjusting production, as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries does with crude oil. Such minimal interference in the market is unlikely to change, Adeli said.

“I have not seen attempts by any country to go in this direction,” he said. “Given the nature of the gas, it’s not possible.”

Iranian Exports

Adeli, Iran’s former deputy foreign minister and central bank governor, told reporters after his election in Tehran on Nov. 3 that he wants to help his country become a “major player among the gas exporting countries.”

He will represent all GECF members and not his country, Adeli said in today’s interview. “Iran is not leading this organization,” he said. “I am leading this organization.”

Iran’s own efforts to export LNG to world markets have been hampered by U.S. and European Union sanctions that have limited access to technology and international expertise. The country is forced to burn off billions of dollars worth of the fuel produced from oil fields each year because of lack of infrastructure to bring it to market, according to the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Public-Private Partnership.

Increase Transparency

In a “few months” the GECF will increase transparency by starting to issue regular reports on subjects including supply, prices, shale gas, developments in different countries, and hub pricing, Adeli said. “This is our intention, to indigenously develop our own views about gas,” and then share them with the public, he said.

International oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) have been invited to a meeting with the GECF at the end of this month, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Tuttle in Doha at rtuttle@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net

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