Qatar pulls out of Opec oil producers' cartel

Jeannie Matthews
December 3, 2018

Qatar, which has spent much of the last few months fighting diplomatic battles, is withdrawing from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), the country's energy minister announced today.

"Qatar has made a decision to withdraw its membership from OPEC effective January 2019", Kaabi said at a Doha press conference.

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

Oil prices soared on Monday after Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia renewed an agreement to cap output, while the United States agreed to halt raising tariffs on Chinese imports, stalling a trade row that many feared could hit demand for the commodity.

Qatar, a country of 2.6 million people where citizens make up over 10 per cent of the population, discovered the offshore North Field in 1971, the same year it became independent.

"Achieving our ambitious growth strategy will undoubtedly require focused efforts, commitment and dedication to maintain and strengthen Qatar's position as the leading natural gas producer", al-Kaabi.

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He said Qatar Petroleum planned to raise its production capability from 4.8 million barrels oil equivalent per day to 6.5 million barrels in the next decade. "I assure you this purely was a decision on what's right for Qatar long term".

Qatari is one of the cartel's smallest oil producers, but is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Al-Kaabi said that Qatar chose to pull out this calendar year as to not be an OPEC member in 2019.

He added that Qatar would still attend the Opec meeting in Vienna that starts on Thursday and will set oil policy for next year.

The withdrawal comes as other non-Opec countries such as Russian Federation have gained more clout alongside Saudi Arabia in setting oil policy.

"For now, there is optimism that Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation are committed to keep the supply under control".

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