Vladimir Putin has heralded the end of cheap energy resources, but short-term energy markets do not reflect his comments, analysts say. The meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum saw producers maintain that they would be unable to fix prices, because supplies remain tied to fixed pipelines and long-term contracts. Producers did agree to consult each other on future production and to study ways of setting future prices for natural gas. ‘There is, however, some scepticism about whether a gas cartel will be able to operate in the same way as Opec.‘ Gazprom’s board has approved its 2009 capital spending plan of $24.7 billion. Russia is to assist Nicaragua – the only nation after Russia to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia – in building hydroelectric and geothermal plants. After securing significant energy price cuts from Moscow, Alexander Lukashenko said that Belarus would consider recognizing the two breakaway regions in the new year.