Doha: Qatar on Monday announced that it intended to withdraw from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in order to focus on its plans to increase natural gas production. It has been an OPEC member since 57 years.
The planned January 1, 2019, withdrawal was announced at a press conference here earlier in the day and confirmed by Qatar Petroleum, the state-owned corporation responsible for oil-and-gas activities, on Twitter, said an IANS report citing Efe news.
Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Minister for Energy Affairs, said OPEC had been informed of the decision. He said the withdrawal decision reflects Qatar's aim to increase its natural gas production from 77 million tonnes a year to 110 million tons in the coming years.
The announcement comes ahead of the meeting by OPEC and its allies, including Russia, on December 6-7 to discuss cutting supply.
The decision to pull out came after Qatar, one of OPEC's smallest producers but the world's largest liquefied natural gas exporter, reviewed ways to enhance its role internationally and plan long-term strategy, including focusing on its gas industry, Qatar’s Energy Minister said, as per a Reuters report.
"Qatar has decided to withdraw its membership from OPEC effective January 2019 and this decision was communicated to OPEC this morning," he told a news conference, adding that Qatar would still attend an OPEC meeting in Vienna this week.
While announcing the decision, it was not an easy one as Qatar has been in OPEC for 57 years, while adding that the country would continue to abide by all its commitments like any other non-OPEC oil producer.
The Minister denied that the decision was linked to a political and economic boycott of Qatar imposed since June 2017 by OPEC's de facto leader Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states.
According to Bloomberg, Qatar is the 11th biggest oil producer in OPEC.
On Monday, global oil prices shot up by 5% after the US and China agreed to a 90-day truce in the trade and tariff war.