Qatar to exit OPEC in January to focus on gas production

Qatar Withdraws From OPEC

With daily oil production of around 600,000 to 700,000 barrels and a larger natural liquefied gas profile, Qatar has chose to exit the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2019, to leverage on growing its LNG portfolio.

Qatar said on Monday (Dec 3) it was quitting OPEC from January to focus on its gas ambitions, taking a swipe at the group's de facto leader Saudi Arabia and marring efforts to show unity before this week's meeting of exporters to tackle an oil price slide. However, the current state of affairs won't make the country's position worse, as Qatar is "isolated anyway". However, Qatar has denied all the claims.

Doha is one of the smallest oil producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June of 2017, in a dramatic move that was matched by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and others. The country reportedly produces 600,000 barrels of oil a day compared to more than 27 million from all the members of the cartel.

"They are not a big producer, but have played a big part in [Opec's] history", one Opec source said.

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That meeting is expected to set a policy for 2019 and despite Qatar's announcement, oil prices soared on Monday after Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia renewed a pact to cap output on the sidelines of a G20 summit.

OPEC, which Qatar joined in 1961, was informed of the decision ahead of the announcement, he said.

"Riyadh made a series of demands aimed at reining in its ambitious smaller neighbor, including that Qatar close down the Al Jazeera news channel", as NPR's Peter Kenyon reports.

Kaabi said gas production would remain the top priority for Qatar, which is the world's the biggest exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG). The boycotters accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and Iran, a regional rival of Saudi Arabia.

Kaabi said, "Qatar has chose to withdraw its membership from OPEC effective January 2019".

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These countries, which also include large economies such as China and India, account for 75 percent of Iran's energy export.

OPEC members are meeting to agree on production cuts, which can help shore up the price of oil.

Qatar is also leaving at a time when being an OPEC member carries wider political risks.

Following a drop in oil prices in autumn, members of the 15-country bloc, which was founded in 1960, were about to cut production, as Brent crude slumped to $60 a barrel from $86 in October.

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