Gas-rich nations meet in Tehran ahead of summit
An extraordinary meeting of gas exporting countries has begun in Tehran ahead of a Monday summit which will gather several leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, to discuss issues related to gas production, exports and pricing.
Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh chaired the opening ministerial session on Saturday morning to lay out the agenda of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) for summit negotiations and draft a declaration.
“Without a doubt, this meeting will pave the way for exchange of views and better cooperation and convergence among members and encourage other states to join the GECF,” he told the session.
GECF ministers were to carry on with another meeting in the afternoon in which they were expected to choose a secretary general. The group’s incumbent, Iranian Mohammad Hossein Adeli, faces no contestant for the post.
“I have no serious rival but we have to wait until the last moment. Certain countries have differences and political consultations are underway behind the scenes,” Adeli told the IRNA news agency.
Besides Putin, presidents of Venezuela, Iraq, Bolivia, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and the Algerian prime minister have been confirmed to participate at the summit.
This is the third summit of GECF countries, coming in the midst of changing dynamics in the global gas market and an imminent removal of US-led sanctions on Iran.
Iran possesses the world’s largest proven gas reserves, with a potential to become a top producer.
“Naturally, Iran with more than 33 trillion cubic meters of gas which it possesses will become a major player in the world gas trade,” Deputy Petroleum Minister Amir-Hossein Zamaninia said on Monday.
The country is currently among the world’s biggest gas producers with more than 173 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year but much of it goes to domestic consumption.
Officials say Iran must double production to 1.3 bcm a day by 2020 under its development plan, putting the country among the ranks of major gas exporters.