What Is the GECF?:
The 15 members of GECF (Gas Exporting Countries’ Forum) control 75% of the world’s natural gas reserves. If they formed a cartel, it would rival OPEC in strategic importance. Russia is the leading member, and is also the world's largest producer of natural gas. Other members include Iran, with the world’s third largest gas reserves, Qatar, with the fourth largest reserves, and Venezuela. Other countries who have expressed interest in a gas cartel are Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Russia and Algeria Have Taken First Steps Towards a Cartel:
In 2006, Algeria and Russia agreed to coordinate, possibly the first step towards a gas cartel that would rival OPEC. Algeria is the largest gas producer in OPEC. Algeria gave Russia monopoly access to its gas fields, the eighth largest in the world. In return, Russia forgave Algeria’s $4.7 billion in debt, while Algeria agreed to buy $7.5 billion in Russian jet fighters.
What It Means:
A gas cartel would ensure higher prices in both gas and oil. Since most of these countries are also members of the Shanghai Cooperative Organization, they are likely to give preferential treatment to China rather than the U.S.