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Russia says it is not forming natural gas cartel

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[November 12, 2008]  MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to ease fears about his planned talks with other natural gas exporters, saying Tuesday that Russia was not forming a gas cartel.

Putin plans Wednesday to hold cooperation talks with Iran and Qatar, which together with Russia account for nearly a third of world natural gas exports.

Hardware"We know about the concerns and even fears expressed by some energy consumer countries," Putin said after a meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. "There are absolutely no grounds for such fears. We are not establishing a cartel, we are not striking any cartel deals."

Russia, Iran and Qatar agreed last month to coordinate their actions more closely, raising concerns that Moscow could expand its influence over energy markets. The European Commission said the European Union would have to rethink its energy policy if the three form an OPEC-style natural gas cartel.

Nazif also met with the chairman of Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly OAO Gazprom, Alexei Miller, and they agreed that both nations favor the creation of a permanent structure bringing together gas exporters, the company said.

Putin insisted that the goal of closer cooperation was to provide stable supplies.

"Energy producers, as well as consumers, have the right to -- and in my view must -- coordinate their decisions, exchange information and do their best to ensure uninterrupted hydrocarbon supplies on global markets," he said.

Putin said Monday that Russia -- the world's second-largest oil exporter but not an OPEC member -- should assume a greater role in influencing oil prices.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.





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