Source: Tehran Times; photos by Islamic Republic News Agency
On Sunday, Iran was elected as the new secretary general of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). The decision was made at the 15th ministerial meeting of the GECF in Tehran on Sunday.
The two competitors for the post were Iran and Libya. Iran garnered 6 votes against Libya which received 5 votes.
Former Iranian central banker Mohammad-Hossein Adeli was elected to lead the GECF for a two-year term.
Adeli has already served as ambassador to Canada and the UK.
He replaced Russia's Leonid Bokhanovsky.
The GECF is a bloc of the world's leading gas producers and was set up as international governmental organization with the objective to increase the level of coordination and strengthen the collaboration among member countries.
Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela are the members of the forum. Kazakhstan, Iraq, the Netherlands, and Norway are observer members.
The GECF has a strong position on the world gas market and among international energy organizations. Its potential rests on the enormous natural gas reserves of the member countries all together accumulating 62 percent of the world's proven natural gas reserves.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh addressed the opening ceremony of GECF's ministerial meeting.
Following is the text of his speech:
Excellencies, ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the 15th Ministerial Meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries' Forum.
I am sure that this meeting of your excellencies, honorable ministers and heads of delegation will provide a valuable opportunity for exchange of views on the achievements of the Forum, while attempting to come up with suitable approaches for the realization of its objectives, and resolving organizational problems.
Energy is the top agenda-item of all international energy fora. Energy poverty and lack of easy access to energy, have turned energy security into the most important topic for all countries of our planet.
The specific economic and environmental advantages of natural gas, however, have introduced this clean energy-carrier as an element that is capable of meeting the sustainable development needs of the twenty first century.
The share of natural gas in the global energy mix is forecast to hit the 26% level by the year 2035.
Demand security is one of the most important requirements of producers to guarantee capacity-building and production investments. Organized competition and cooperation of gas producing countries with respect to regional markets, at the same time, is regarded as one of the pillars of energy security, which will open the way for the optimal and economic utilization of resources. Because of the long lead time of gas projects, producer-consumer understanding on energy supply and demand security, could enhance mutual trust.
The extreme fall of market prices, on the one hand, will endanger the economic viability of projects, thereby enhancing project-risks.
This, in turn will increase the long term natural gas supply uncertainties.
Extreme increase of prices, on the other hand, will make the non-conventional gas production viable, and create challenges for the interests of the conventional gas producers.
These are some of the common problems of all of us as producers.
Although gas exporters are rivals in development, capacity building, market-share and use of modern-technologies, our common interests should always act as the demarcation-line for this competition. Safeguarding our sovereignty over our gas resources, maximizing the share of natural gas in the global energy consumption mix, acquisition of fair incomes, and preserving inter-generational interest, resources are the producers' common interests.
In the age of international interactions, gas exporting countries' cooperation and cohesion will ensure their collective interests. But it should be recognized that exporters of this clean energy are confronting challenges such as tough project financing conditions and huge costs of acquiring state-of-the-art technologies.
Presently, the GECF is an intergovernmental institution of 17 producer and exporter countries from all corners of the world, evolving to play its deserving role in the world energy market.
It is very pleasing to witness the advances of the forum, and for this, I feel obliged to thank all the players, especially the GECF secretariat for their ongoing efforts in advancing the objectives of the Forum.
It seems that the time has come for us to review the activities and the evolutionary process of the forum in the past several years, to see the extent of its achievements.
I believe, in its effort to promote its position in the international energy scene, the forum has to define a roadmap, based on a fresh vision for the future, and work on:
1. Enhancing member countries' cooperation and expanding exchange of experience and technical know-how.
2. Promoting synergies towards adopting common policies in the areas of production and market development. In this particular area, Iran, in the past, carried out a study project on contractual frameworks, and is prepared to undertake the costs of its updating.
3. Preparing the grounds for member countries' cooperation with international and energy trading companies and financial institutions. The secretariat is proposed to hold meetings with trade and financial institutions every two years, on a regular basis.
4. Raising its dialogue-profile with international energy organizations like IEA, IEF, OPEC as well as producers and consumers.
5. Creating conditions for the updating of contracts and pricing mechanisms to enhance producer-consumer risk-sharing.
6. Compiling information on existing and planned gas pipelines, LNG capacity expansion, transportation and collection plans for all member countries.
Iran, as a country of huge natural gas reserves of over 33 trillion cubic meters, enjoys a high level of natural gas production and export capacities. A comparison of its production to reserves, especially its export levels with reserves volumes, with the rest of the GECF member countries, indicates that we have not been able to utilize our capacities at the desired level. I.R.Iran's strategy is based on increasing natural gas production and exports. In addition to that, Iran is very keen on trying to regulate domestic consumption to raise its export capacities.
With plans being implemented, I.R. Iran intends to ensure its deserving place in the energy markets of the world, and at the same time it is fully prepared to expand new areas of cooperation with member countries to ensure the stability of natural gas markets.
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