Vladimir Putin has tried to reassure consumers by insisting that his praise of relations with Egypt does not hail the creation of an energy cartel, although Russia is meeting with Iran and Qatar today to discuss mutual natural gas interests. Putin insists that the meeting’s focus is supply, not price. ‘Energy producers, as well as consumers, have the right to — and in my view must — coordinate their decisions, exchange information and do their best to ensure uninterrupted hydrocarbon supplies on global markets,’ he said. Gazprom has announced that it expects consumer gas prices to drop in 2009. Its joint venture with German company Wintershall has released figures for its expected first-year output. In response to demands from oil producers, Russia may overhaul the way its oil companies are taxed. As the price of oil drops to almost $59 a barrel, there is speculation that OPEC may cut production.