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    Gazprom hopes gas exporters' 'OPEC' to have HQ in St. Petersburg

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    MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) - The Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) could have its secretariat in St. Petersburg, a senior official at Russian energy giant Gazprom announced on Thursday.

    "We hope St. Petersburg will be chosen [from among four candidates] to be the seat of the secretariat," said Alexander Medvedev, deputy chairman of Gazprom's board.

    The forum of gas exporting countries was set up in the spring of 2008 in Doha. It includes Russia, Iran and other leading gas exporters, which account for about 73% of the world's gas reserves and 42% of production.

    The group has yet to adopt a charter and lacks a strict membership system. Equatorial Guinea and Norway have observer status.

    A GECF secretary general will be elected in a year's time, Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky said.

    "The draft charter sets serious requirements for the candidate," Yanovsky said. "The candidate will be elected at the next meeting in a year."

    He pledged that, unlike the world's oil cartel, OPEC, the member countries will not regulate gas prices through quotas.

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