A forum of natural gas exporting countries will be fully operational in 2010, Russia's energy minister said on Tuesday.
"[Its formation] will be completed in 2010. Six countries have already ratified the documents," Sergei Shmatko told reporters.
The Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), a "gas equivalent" of the OPEC oil cartel, comprises Qatar, Russia, Algeria, Bolivia, Venezuela, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago and Equatorial Guinea.
Shmatko also said that the gas forum would play a key role in coordinating activity on the market of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The energy minister said that the forum comprised the world's largest LNG producing countries.
At the same time, GECF Secretary General Leonid Bokhanovsky said that the forum had no intention of turning into a gas cartel.
Bokhanovsky also said that Canada and Australia could become member states of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, adding that the organization pursued the goal of expanding its geographical presence and the number of its members.
Bokhanovsky said that the gas forum was considering transforming the status of Kazakhstan and Norway as countries with the observer status into full-fledged members.
The GECF official said that the organization's governance body would consist of Russian specialists at the first stage and would subsequently turn into an international team.
MOSCOW, December 15 (RIA Novosti)