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Hugo Chavez Proposes South American Natural Gas Cartel

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wants other South American countries to join him in forming an organization of natural gas producers based on the oil-exporting cartel, OPEC.

Chavez said Thursday night that he has spoken to Argentine President Nestor Kirchner about the idea of forming "a kind of organization of gas exporting and producing countries in South America."

Chavez proposed naming it "Opegas Sur," or the Organization of Gas Producing and Exporting Countries of South America. He said it would be limited at first to Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina, but could later be expanded.

Venezuela was one of the five founding members of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries, or OPEC, in 1960. It has the largest oil reserves outside of the Middle East and the largest natural gas reserves on the continent.

Chavez has promoted other ambitious plans for regional integration, including a continental gas pipeline and a 'Bank of the South' to fund joint infrastructure and social projects.

"So you see, we have great things to do," Chavez said on his weekday talk show.

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