WHAT is Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF)
The Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) is an organization of the world's leading natural gas producers to represent and promote their mutual interest. The GECF promotes these interests through regular meetings and consultation between member countries’ representatives, on topics like worldwide gas exploration and production trends, supply and demand dynamics, the structure of gas markets, gas transport, and the interrelationship of gas with oil products, coal and other energy sources.
BREAKING DOWN Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF)
Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) members collectively hold nearly 70% of the world's natural gas reserves. As of 2010, the GECF has 12 regular members: Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad & Tobago, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. It also has seven members with observer status: Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Oman, Peru and Norway.
The GECF first convened on May 19th, 2001 by the governments of Algeria, Brunei, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Turkmenistan and Norway in Tehran, Iran. In 2008, at the 7th Ministerial Meeting held in Moscow, Russia, the organization transformed by mutual agreement into a full-frame international governmental organization, though it retained the name forum to indicate the organization’s open and democratic nature.
Many of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum members also belong to OPEC, and therefore there has long been speculation that the GECF would evolve into a natural gas cartel like OPEC is for oil. However, some observers believe that the fundamental differences in the two organizations, as well as the fact that crude oil and natural gas are very different commodities, may hinder the formation of GECF into a gas cartel along the lines of OPEC. Thus far, the organization has refrained from dictating natural gas export levels, and has instead focused on cooperation between member countries to support industry best practices.
Gas Exporting Countries Forum and the Global Natural Gas Market
The global market for natural gas has grown and matured in recent decades, as new technologies enabling the extraction of natural gas from shale has helped greatly expand the supply extracted each year by the global oil and gas industry. Between 2008 and 2016 total global natural gas production grew from 2.2 trillion cubic feet per year to 3.6 trillion cubic feet, and this extraction boom has led to a concurrent construction boom in natural gas pipelines, so that companies can bring natural gas product to the markets that it need it most. In 2011, for instance, Russia completed the Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic Sea to transport natural gas to the European market.