Qatar quits OPEC after more than 57 years

The Gulf country insisted that the decision is rather strategic, than politically motivated

Photo: EPA Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Qatar Minister of Energy and industry.

Qatar announced Monday that it will the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on 1 January, 2019 after nearly 60 years of membership. The announcement was initially made in a series of tweets by country's state oil company, Qatar Petroleum, just days before a crucial meeting between the influential oil cartel and its allies. It also comes shortly after Qatar reviewed ways in which it could improve its global standing and plan its long-term strategy

"The withdrawal decision reflects Qatar's desire to focus its efforts on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production," Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, the country's minister of state for energy affairs, was cited in one of the tweets.

Later on, the minister officially said at a news conference that Doha’s decision represents a “technical and strategic” change, and was not politically motivated.

“A lot of people will politicise it,” he added. “I assure you this purely was a decision on what’s right for Qatar long term. It’s a strategy decision.”

 Al-Kaabi also said the move “was already communicated to OPEC” but insisted that Qatar would attend the group’s meeting on Thursday and Friday, aimed at reaching an accord over possible output cuts, and would abide by its commitments.

With its withdraw, Qatar becomes the first Middle Eastern country to pull out of the oil cartel since its founding in 1960. And while the Gulf state is one of OPEC’s smallest oil producers, especially when compared to the likes of de facto leader Saudi Arabia and Iraq, it is the world's leading exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG), accounting for about 30% of global demand.

“It could signal a historic turning point of the organisation towards Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States,” said Algeria’s former Energy Minister and OPEC Chairman, Chakib Khelil, commenting on Qatar’s withdraw. He also continued that Doha’s exit would undoubtedly have a “psychological impact” because of the row with Riyadh and could prove “an example to be followed by other members in the wake of unilateral decisions of Saudi Arabia in the recent past.”

As Europost reminds, for a year and a half, Qatar has been under an economic embargo by some of its neighbouring OPEC members such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as fellow Arab states Bahrain and Egypt, which have imposed a political and economic boycott on the state, accusing it of supporting terrorism. In response, Qatar increased its gas production, the mainstay of its economy, last year.

Similar articles

  • EU's top court hits at Gazprom

    EU's top court hits at Gazprom

    Russian giant's access to Nord Stream pipeline link curtailed

    Europe's top court overruled last Tuesday an EU decision allowing Russia's Gazprom to ship more gas via the Opal gas pipeline, which links its Nord Stream pipeline to Germany, news wires reported. The ruling is politically charged as Poland and other eastern European nations fight Gazprom's plans to double the capacity of Nord Stream and bypass legacy gas routes via Poland and Ukraine, Reuters commented.

  • Seeking gas, Zelensky slams Nord Stream 2

    Seeking gas, Zelensky slams Nord Stream 2

    Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday slammed the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a "threat" to Europe and welcomed moves by Kiev to tap into US gas supplies, news wires reported. He made the comments beside Poland's President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, where he was due to attend Sunday ceremonies marking 80 years since the outbreak of World War II.

  • US LNG imports to EU on steep rise

    US LNG imports to EU on steep rise

    Exports of liquefied natural gas exports from the US to the EU have risen by 272% for a year, a High-Level Business-to-Business Energy Forum hosted by both side revealed. Since the first cargo in April 2016, LNG exports have been increasing substantially and have seen a steep rise after President Trump and President Juncker's meeting in July 2018. As a result, March 2019 recorded the highest volume ever of EU-US trade in LNG with more than 1.4 billion cubic metres.