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Russian minister calls OPEC-type natural-gas cartel a „fantasy”

Russian Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said a proposal for Russia to form an OPEC-type cartel for natural-gas with countries such as Iran and Algeria is nothing but a „fantasy.”

„The continuous widening of our contacts to consumers and producers serves only one purpose: strengthening energy security and lowering risks,” Khristenko said at a press conference in Moscow yesterday. Iran proposed the idea of a natural gas union resembling the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries with Russia in January.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters last week that he considered it „an interesting idea.” Khristenko signed an energy cooperation agreement with Algeria on January 21. Russia's aim is to engage consumer countries, transit nations and energy producers in discussion, the minister said. „There's only one instrument to raise global energy security, and that's global dialog,” he said. As for Russia's oil industry, Khristenko said he expects production to rise to 540 million tons by 2015, a 12% increase from last year.

Most of the extra crude produced will go toward the country's increased refining capacity, he said. It would be „logical” for Russia to build refineries with an annual capacity of 20-30 million tons at the terminus of a new oil pipeline it's building on the Pacific coast. The first phase of the project should be completed next year, and the second phase as early as 2012, he said. (Bloomberg)