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Iran, Russia, Qatar Discuss Forming Natural Gas Cartel

Iran, Russia and Qatar have agreed to increase cooperation on joint projects - an initiative that may lead to a group resembling the oil exporting cartel, OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries).

Iran's Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari discussed plans with Qatar's energy minister, Abdullah Bin Hamad al-Attiya, and the head of Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom, Alexei Miller, Tuesday in Tehran.

Nozari said the three countries reached a consensus to establish a gas version of OPEC, though his counterparts did not say they reached a firm commitment to form such a cartel.

The United States and European nations have expressed concern about a potential gas cartel, worrying that it could lead to price manipulation.

Analysts say a natural gas cartel would not have the influence over gas prices that OPEC has over oil because the markets for the two commodities are different. Natural gas contracts tend to be very long-term, while oil contracts are relatively shorter and more prone to price swings.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.