Natural gas cartel on the front burner

Stephen Beard Apr 9, 2007
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Natural gas cartel on the front burner

Stephen Beard Apr 9, 2007
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

SCOTT JAGOW: More than a dozen natural-gas producing countries are meeting in the Middle East today. They’re talking about creating a price cartel, you know like OPEC, in the oil business. Our European correspondent Stephen Beard joins us from London. What prompted this, Stephen?

STEPHEN BEARD: Well this is actually not a new group. They set up in 2001, but what’s giving them real momentum now — apart obviously from the rising price of energy — is the growth of liquefied natural gas technology or LNG. You know, this is where they take natural gas and turn it into liquid and load it into ships and then deliver it around the world. That makes natural gas far more of a global, tradable commodity like oil. Across the Atlantic, for example, you have more of a market. Now that’s a market which no doubt a gas cartel would very much like to influence, if not manipulate and control.

JAGOW: Is there any chance they can create an OPEC-like cartel?

BEARD: It’s not gonna happen this week, that’s for sure. It could be some way off. I mean there’s gonna be a lot of argument about this. Nevertheless, for consuming countries, especially European countries, which have become increasingly dependent on natural gas, this meeting is a worry.

JAGOW: Well that’s what I was gonna say because we always hear every winter there’s such a fluctuation in the price of natural gas and it has a huge impact on home heating bills, so is this something we should be worried about?

BEARD: Well Americans should be less worried perhaps that Europeans but natural gas, liquefied natural gas in particular, which the U.S. is gearing up to receive in ever-increasing quantities is certainly a growing component of the world energy market. And if there is a cartel, that’s not going to be good for consumers.

JAGOW: OK Stephen, thank you.

BEARD: OK Scott.

JAGOW: Our European correspondent Stephen Beard in London.

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