Abstract When they discover natural gas rather than liquid hydrocarbons, oil companies often resist moving into the unfamiliar business of gas transport and distribution. Differences between oil and gas development in terms of cost, technology, marketing and government regulation help to explain this resistance. Although gas offers substantial benefits to developing countries, there remains the question of how the gas is to be exploited. In Italy, the state-owned company ENI has been the vehicle for gas development. Other countries also have considered natural gas to fall completely within the responsibility of the state. But this approach can be employed only if the country has a large cash inflow (for example, from oil-export revenues). An alternative approach is to utilize the technical and financial resources of the oil company that has found the gas. To achieve this, Egypt, Indonesia and Brazil have tried novel approaches, which are described here.