Qatar leaves Opec oil group to focus on gas

Qatar leaves Opec oil group to focus on gas

OPEC had been informed of the decision on Monday ahead of the announcement, Kaabi said, adding he would still attend the organisation's Vienna meeting later this week, his "first and last" as energy minister.

The Gulf state produces 650,000 barrels of oil per day and comes as the world's number-one exporter of liquefied natural gas.

The decision comes as OPEC prepares to meet this week to review its output and just after Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation reaffirmed their commitment to manage production to balance the oil market.

Legit.ng gathers that the Qatar's energy minister, Saad al-Kaabi, who spoke at a news conference, said the country would be withdrawing from OPEC on January 1, 2019.

The Opec is estimated to now account for almost half of the global oil production and so has a major say in oil prices. "Our potential is gas", said Kaabi.

According to Hall, the move is mainly a political decision and Qatar may even come back to OPEC some day.

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It highlights the growing dominance over policy making in the oil market of Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, the top world's three oil producers which together account for nearly a third of global output.

Qatar produces only some 600,000 barrels of crude oil a day, making it OPEC's 11th biggest producer.

Over the decades, OPEC has regularly been criticised for its role in fixing the global oil market.

This step by Qatar is an attempt to give more value to gas, which is usually costed against oil when companies make capital and operating expenditure decisions. Its political stances, often supporting Islamists, have drawn the ire of its neighbours, particularly Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest exporter. A Saudi-led coalition implemented a blockade on Qatar in June past year, severing diplomatic, trade and transport links based on accusations that stemmed from its funding of extremist groups and relations with Iran.

Founding Nations Qatar was the first country to join OPEC after the five founding nations - Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela - formed the group in 1960.

The Gulf state has also been at loggerheads with its much bigger neighbor Saudi Arabia, the de facto OPEC leader. That rising supply, coupled with the Trump administration allowing many countries to continue to import Iranian oil despite his targeting of Tehran with sanctions, has seen global prices drop. Brent crude oil prices slid to below $60 a barrel last week while United States crude fell below $50 a barrel.

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