Meet the ‘Gas OPEC’: Summit Kicks Off in Bolivia Amid Diplomatic Tensions

Meet the ‘Gas OPEC’: Summit Kicks Off in Bolivia Amid Diplomatic Tensions
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AP Photo/ Juan KaritaBusiness17:33 21.11.2017(updated 17:42 21.11.2017) Get short URL
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The four-day summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GEFC) kicks off in Bolivia on Tuesday; it is hoped that participants such as Qatar and Egypt will be able to overcome their recent differences for the benefit of the industry as a whole, South American analyst Alejandro Sanchez told Sputnik.

The fourth summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GEFC) starts in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra on Tuesday. 

“The event is extremely important for Latin America, since many countries of the region participate in it. From Mexico to Argentina, these lands were blessed with deposits of oil, gas and other sources of renewable and non-renewable energy. Many economies in the region depend on this sector,” analyst Alejandro Sanchez told Sputnik Mundo.

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REUTERS/ David MercadoBolivia’s President Evo Morales visits the venue where the GECF (Gas Exporting Countries Forum) Summit will be held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, November 20, 2017Established in Iran in 2001, the GECF consists of 12 member countries: Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago and the UAE. The seven observer countries are Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Norway, Oman and Peru.

“The summit is taking place at a time when the gas market is going through several stages of development, it has become very competitive,” GECF General Secretary Mohammad Hossein Adeli said.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, in 2015 the world’s five largest gas producers were the US, Russia, Iran, Qatar and Canada.

​​The four-day summit takes place amid tense relations between Qatar and former allies including the UAE.  In June, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced the severance of diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a de facto blockade against the country, alleging that Doha’s has supported Islamist extremist groups. Some other countries including Chad and Senegal subsequently cut ties too.

“It will be interesting to see how they handle this situation. Some of the countries don’t have the best diplomatic relationship, but all countries are interested in their own gas industry and I hope they can put aside their geopolitical differences for a moment to find a common agreement that will benefit everyone,” Sanchez said.

Russia’s Gazprom, which produces 11% of the world’s gas supplies, has signed several cooperation agreements with the Bolivian government and Bolivian Fiscal Oilfields (YPFB) in order to develop prospecting and production of natural gas and liquefied natural gas in Bolivia.

“Gazprom is already working on the Incahuasi gas field, where production began in 2016. It is slated to begin exploration work at the Acero field next year and has declared an interest in looking for hydrocarbons in areas such as La Ceiba and Madidi,” Sanchez told Sputnik.

“La Paz has also made other agreements with important Russian firms such as Rosatom, a leader in energy and nuclear technology. Via an agreement with the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency, a $300 million research center with a reactor, laboratories and a gamma-ray experimentation center is planned for construction.”

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