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Russia, China, Nigeria, Others To Form OPEC-Like Gas Cartel

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Russia, China, Iran, and other key global gas suppliers including Nigeria are laying the groundwork for a new era in energy geopolitics with the formation of a potential ‘Gas OPEC’, paralleling the influential Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) but focusing on natural gas.

This ambitious move comes on the heels of a landmark memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Russia’s Gazprom and Iran’s National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), signifying a pivotal step towards direct gas transfers between the two countries.

The agreement, hailed by Iran’s Petroleum Minister Javad Owji as revolutionary, underscores a broader strategy to consolidate control over global gas supplies.

With Russia, Iran, and Qatar already leading the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), comprising 14 gas-rich nations, the stage is set for a formidable alliance.

Besides Russia, Iran, and Qatar, the Gulf Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) includes Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela among its 11 other members. Collectively,

Russia, Iran, and Qatar possess nearly 60 percent of the world’s gas reserves, with Russia leading globally with approximately 1,688 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, followed by Iran at about 1,200 tcf.

The GECF controls approximately 71 percent of global gas supplies, 44 percent of its marketed production, 53 percent of its gas pipelines, and 57 percent of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

“The MoU between Gazprom and NIGC represents more than just a commercial deal; it’s a strategic move to reshape the global energy market,” stated Owji, reflecting on the implications of the alliance.

The accord builds on previous agreements aimed at enhancing gas production capabilities in Iran’s South Pars and North Pars fields, alongside bolstering LNG infrastructure crucial for international gas trade.

According to a statement by Hamid Hosseini, chairman of Iran’s Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical Products Exporters’ Union in Tehran, shortly after the signing of the 2022 Gazprom-NIOC MoU:

“Now the Russians have come to the conclusion that the consumption of gas in the world will increase and the tendency towards consumption of LNG has increased and they alone are not able to meet the world’s demand, so there is no room left for gas competition H

“The winner of the Russia-Ukraine war is the United States, and it will capture the European market, so if Iran and Russia can reduce the influence of the United States in the oil, gas and product markets by working together, it will benefit both countries.”

Experts suggest that the alliance isn’t solely about economic dominance but also geopolitical manoeuvring.

By bypassing international sanctions through established Iranian energy corridors, Russia aims to strengthen its energy foothold in Europe and beyond.

Concurrently, Iran stands to gain from expanded energy routes to Turkey and potentially Mediterranean ports, aligned with its broader geopolitical interests.

Moreover, China’s involvement in enhancing transport corridors from Russia through Iran to Iraq and beyond ties into its expansive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aimed at cementing economic and strategic ties across Eurasia.

Recent high-level meetings between Chinese and Iraqi officials have focused on integrating Iraq’s infrastructure projects into this grand vision, including the development of transport routes from the Persian Gulf to Turkey.

While critics raise concerns over increased military and security implications in these regions, proponents argue that such developments are necessary for ensuring energy security and economic growth.

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