A group of some of the world’s largest natural gas exporters -- not including the United States -- and the Saudi-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed Thursday to share energy market research and best practices. 

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between OPEC and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) was signed at Russian Energy Week in Moscow by OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo and his counterpart, GECF’s Yury Sentyrin. 

Tentative plans are to  “strengthen cooperation” by sharing “experiences, views, information and best practices in areas of mutual interest.” 

GECF members are Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. Observer members are Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman and Peru.

At its ministerial meeting in Moscow, the GECF noted its “deep concern about the extra-territorial application of laws and regulations, as well as an objection to unilateral economic sanctions in the gas sector, and particularly against GECF member countries.”

The United States has sanctions in place against Iran, Libya, Russia and Venezuela.  

The GECF ministers also discussed the “current situation of the gas market and expressed their concerns about the challenges the gas industry is facing in terms of geopolitical tensions weakening world economic growth.” 

Members also expressed “uncertainty of energy policies and economic sanctions against some GECF member countries that prevents them from unlocking their huge potential of natural gas resources.”

Within the MOU, OPEC and GECF agreed to cooperate in several areas of mutual interest within the energy markets including:

  • Monitoring, analysis, modeling and forecasting;
  • Research covering the short- medium- and long-term;
  • Market data and statistics; and
  • Initiatives aimed at sustainability, as well as environmental and social responsibility.

The two groups also agreed to cooperate when possible on exchanging information and data.

The intergovernmental GECF, established in 2008, said in a global gas outlook last December that liquefied natural gas exports would help fuel world gas demand at the fastest clip among fossil fuels through 2040, a view also held by government agencies, independent analysts and leading oil and gas operators.