The threat that almost wasn't

U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman seemed poised to challenge Russia’s talk of forming a natural gas cartel akin to OPEC Wednesday at the CERA conference, but it was a bit belated.
Advance copies of Bodman’s remarks included the comment “initiatives, new or old, which seek to control the flow of energy supplies to the market” and set prices “are contrary to the long term interests of both producers and consumers.” The comments were even reported in a small item in the Wall Street Journal’s Wednesday print edition.
Russian Federation Deputy Minister of Industry and Energy Andrei Reus, who was a panelist today, said he read that item and expected to hear it in Bodman’s morning remarks. But through a translator Reus said “when all of us were listening to the secretary’s speech it didn’t’ contain the things that I read about in the media announcement…”
Reus didn’t directly address recent news that Russia has approached Qatar, one of the largest natural gas producers, about a cartel but emphasized the kind of “constructive and very sensible conversations” about the issue that have occurred during the CERA conference so far.
“When we’re presented with an ultimatum, that’s when we start to feel worried,” Reus said.
In comments to reporters after the speech Bodman did comment on the cartel concept, however.
“All countries can act as they see fit, but I think it’s fair to say that efforts to manipulate markets, trying to organize the suppliers in such a fashion, over the long term is not going to accrue to the benefit of suppliers,” Bodman said.

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