GECF plans to register charter in UN: Khatibi

The charter of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) will be registered as an international organization in the United Nations when all the member states approve it, Iran's OPEC governor said.

The Mehr News Agency quoted Mohammad-Ali Khatibi as saying that, "All the member countries' governments have to approve the charter before the December 9 meeting (of GECF). Up to now Iran and 6 other governments have approved the charter."

"In the 8th ministerial meeting on Tuesday Qatari Oil Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah was chosen as the Forum's temporary secretary general," he added.

The issue of naming the new secretary general was postponed to the next meeting in October, Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari said Tuesday on the sidelines of the meeting.

Algeria will be the host of the forum's next year meetings.

Iran has introduced Hojattollah Ghanimifard as its candidate for the GECF secretary general post.

The (8th ministerial) meeting also approved the new budget bill and accepted the Netherlands as the new observer for the forum.

Representatives from Norway and Kazakhstan also attended Tuesday's ministerial meeting as observer countries.

The Gas Exporting Countries Forum, which has been called the 'gas OPEC', groups together some of the world's leading gas producers.

The energy ministers of the member countries attended the 7th GECF ministerial meeting in Moscow on December 23, 2008 where they approved the charter of the organization.

The GECF was established in Tehran in 2001. Until the seventh ministerial meeting in Moscow, it operated without a charter or fixed membership structure.

The GECF has agreed to establish its headquarters in Doha, Qatar, the world's biggest producer and exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Since the Moscow meeting, the members are Algeria, Bolivia, Brunei, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela; in addition, Kazakhstan and Norway have observer status.

Gas producers face the challenge of shaping a market, as 70% of gas is sent by pipeline to regional consumers and no global benchmark price exists on an exchange.

Russia, Qatar, and Iran combined own 53.2% of the world's gas reserves. Russia has the world's largest reserves, followed by Iran, Qatar, Turkmenistan and Saudi Arabia.

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