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PLATTS wrote.

OPEC and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) on Thursday agreed to enhance cooperation between the two bodies, mainly in the area of sharing market data and knowledge.

The two organizations share many of the same member countries, though in practice the GECF is more of an advisory forum than one that takes market action like OPEC.

The GECF -- whose members include big hitters Russia, Qatar and Iran -- holds around 70% of the world's proven gas reserves and keeps track of global gas market developments.

OPEC secretary general Mohammed Barkindo and his GECF counterpart Yury Sentyurin signed a memorandum of understandingin Moscow on Thursday designed to "strengthen cooperation in research and the sharing of best practices."

"OPEC and GECF may further identify any other appropriate means to further their cooperation," the organizations saidin a statement.

There has been speculation over the past decade that the GECF could morph into a "Gas OPEC" with the power to manage markets through supply intervention, but the group has insisted its role is to promote gas and encourage cooperation.

Areas of cooperation identified in the MOU with OPEC include:

**energy market monitoring, analysis, modeling and forecasting;

**energy market research studies covering the short- medium- and long-term, and their methodologies;

**energy market data and statistics, data and statistical operational topics (such as methodologies of data gathering, assessment and dissemination);

**energy initiatives and developments aimed at sustainability, along with environmental and social responsibility;

**and other areas and matters involving common interests and concerns.

"OPEC and GECF also agree to cooperate, where possible and appropriate, on the exchange of information and data, holdexpert meetings and internal bilateral workshops to promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences, and cooperate on seminars, workshops, conferences and publications," they said.

Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, the UAE and Venezuela are members of both organizations, while OPECmember states Angola and Iraq are also GECF observer countries.

Qatar -- the world's biggest LNG exporter -- was a member of OPEC, but left the group at the start of 2019.

Other than those also in OPEC, the other GECF member countries are Bolivia, Egypt, Russia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman and Peru are also GECF observer countries.

OPEC's members also include Saudi Arabia, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kuwait and Ecuador, though the latter said this week it would quit the group in January.

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