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Report: Russia, Other Gax Exporters Postpone Cartel Talks

Efforts by Russia and other countries to form an OPEC-style cartel for natural gas have run into difficulties, a German newspaper reported.

A gas pressure gauge

Gas exporters won't discuss forming a cartel until next year, a Russian official said

A spokesman for Russia's state-controlled energy company Gazprom told the German daily Die Welt that a meeting of natural gas exporting countries planned for Moscow this month, had been postponed until 2009.

All members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum had agreed to the delay, Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kuprianov was quoted as saying.

The Moscow talks had been expected to launch a gas cartel that would determine supply and influence prices, they way the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) does for oil.

The European Union, which depends on Russia for nearly half its natural gas imports, fears such a cartel would put consumers at a disadvantage.

Kuprianov said the meeting had been postponed to give participants more time to prepare a common approach on gas exports. The gathering, scheduled for mid-November, could take place in early January, he said.

One of the sticking points is apparently where the new organization will have its headquarters. Moscow and the Qatar capital of Doha are among the favorites, Die Welt reported.

The Gas Exporting Countries Forum last met in Doha in April 2007. It links 14 countries -- among them Russia, Iran, Qatar, Algeria, Venezuela, Nigeria, Egypt and Libya.

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