Qatar to leave OPEC, focus on natural gas

In a first, Qatar will leave the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) headquartered in Vienna from New Year, Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi said on Monday.

After pulling out of the group, Qatar will focus on developing and increasing its natural gas production from 77 million tonnes per year to 110 million tonnes. OPEC has already been informed of the decision, the minister said.

Qatar does not have great potential in oil. Its potential is gas. Geopolitics did not influence the decision, al-Kaabi said.

Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquified natural gas, is isolated in the Gulf because of diplomatic disputes with its neighbours Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain.

OPEC did not immediately respond to Qatar’s move, the first by a Middle East nation since its founding in 1960.

Qatar’s withdrawal comes days before OPEC is to meet in Vienna.

Oil traders cheered as prices went up on Monday after Russia and Saudi Arabia renewed a deal to cap output which was set to expire this year. Details were not forthcoming on how much the cut will be and for how long.