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Qatar Withdrawing from OPEC to Focus on Natural Gas

Gulf nation Qatar has revealed its plans to withdraw from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), putting an end to its 57-year membership of the producers’ cartel.

The country’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, said that the country would withdraw from OPEC effective January 1, 2019.

He explained that the withdrawal decision “reflects Qatar’s desire to focus its efforts on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production from 77 million tons per year to 110 million tons in the coming years.”

Qatar’s move to leave the organization of 15 oil-producing countries was announced at a press conference in Doha on December 3, ahead of the December 6 OPEC meeting.

“Qatar has worked diligently during the past few years to develop a future strategy based on growth and expansion, both in its activities at home and abroad.”

“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 concluded.

Qatar, the first Gulf country to leave the group of oil-producing countries, joined the organization in 1961, one year after OPEC was established.

“The news should not come as a huge surprise. Qatar is OPEC’s smallest Middle East oil producer, and the group’s fifth smallest producer overall. Its total 2018 oil production is estimated at 600,000-650,000 barrels per day, less than 2% of OPEC’s oil output,” Lynn Morris-Akinyemi, research analyst, MENA upstream, at Wood Mackenzie, said.

It is therefore expected that the country’s exit would not affect the volume of oil supply in the market during 2019 or risk OPEC’s goal of reducing output next year, according to Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president, macro oils.

World Maritime News Staff