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TASS-FACTBOX. The Gas Exporting Countries Forum will hold its 19th ministerial meeting in Moscow on October 4, 2017 as part of the Russian Energy Week. The ministerial meeting will be chaired by Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak.
The Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) is an inter-governmental organization established in May 2001 on Iran’s initiative.
Before 2007, the GECF served as a platform to exchange experience and information in the gas sphere and lacked its permanent leadership, budget and headquarters. The GECF’s 6th meeting held in Doha (Qatar) in April 2007 made a decision to set up a working group under the guidance of the Russian Industry and Energy Ministry to coordinate activities for developing a full-fledged organization. This step was made amid active discussions in the world on the need to establish the gas analogue of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The Doha meeting stated that it was illegitimate to compare the new structure that was in the process of its establishment with OPEC as the gas trade mechanism principally differed from oil trade.
The agreement on establishing the new organization (it kept its name as the Gas Exporting Countries Forum) was signed at the GECF’s 7th meeting in Moscow on December 23, 2008. The Agreement also integrated the organization’s Statute. The document went into force on October 1, 2009.
Pursuant to its Statute, the Forum aims to support the sovereign rights of its Member Countries over their natural gas resources and their ability to independently plan and manage the development of the gas sector. The Forum discusses such issues as worldwide gas exploration and production trends; measures to maintain the supply-demand balance for gas; worldwide gas exploration, production and transportation technologies; the structure and development of gas markets; environmental protection.
Today the GECF comprises twelve member countries: Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, the UAE and Venezuela. These countries control 67% of world gas reserves, over 65% of world trade in liquefied gas and 63% of pipeline gas deliveries. Russia holds the world’s largest gas reserves (about 25%) followed by Iran (around 17%) and Qatar (about 12%).
Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman and Peru hold the observer status. Some meetings were also attended by representatives of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. In 2017, Turkmenistan was invited to participate in the Forum.
The GECF’s supreme authority is its annual Ministerial Meeting, which formulates the general policy of the Forum and determines the best methods and means of its implementation; appoints the Forum’s leadership; decides on the Forum’s budget and GECF membership applications. The latest 18th GECF meeting was held in Doha (Qatar) on November 17, 2016.
The GECF Executive Board, which consists of representatives of its member countries, is the Forum’s governing authority between ministerial meetings and is convened no less than twice a year.
The Secretariat, which is headed by the Secretary General, manages the organization’s day-to-day activities. The GECF Secretary General is elected at a ministerial meeting for two years with an option to extend his powers for another term.
In 2009−2013, this office was held by Leonid Bokhanovsky (Russia). Seyed Mohammad Hossein Adeli (Iran) has been the GECF Secretary General since 2014 (he was re-elected in November 2015). In 2015, the GECF established the Technical and Economic Council (TEC) as its permanent specialized body.
The GECF is headquartered in Doha.
Since 2011, GECF summits have been held once every two years. They are attended by the heads of GECF member countries and other high-placed officials.
The first GECF summit was held on November 15, 2011 in Doha and was chaired by Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani. The Russian side was represented by Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko. The summit adopted the Doha declaration, which acknowledged the need for fair gas pricing and the principle of a balanced risk sharing mechanism between producers and consumers.
The second summit was held in Moscow on July 1, 2013 and was chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The summit adopted the Moscow declaration, which defined the basic activities of the gas exporting countries on world gas markets: to support gas pricing based on oil/oil products indexation; the intention of the GECF member countries to jointly counter unilateral discriminatory measures by gas consuming countries and to conclude long-term contracts.
The third summit was held in Tehran on November 23, 2015 and was hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The summit was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Tehran declaration confirmed the commitment of the GECF member countries to the accords reached earlier and noted the need to strength the GECF’s position on challenges on the global energy market.
The fourth GECF summit will be held in Bolivia in November 2017.