Qatar Declares Withdrawal from OPEC in January 2019

Credit: Flickr / QatarGas

The Gulf nation Qatar is all poised to withdraw from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which was announced by Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi.

The minister justified the withdrawal by tweeting that the withdrawal decision reflected Qatar’s desire to focus on its efforts on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production from 77 million tons per year to around 110 million tons in the years to come. He also said that Qatar wanted to raise its oil production from 4.8 million barrels of oil equivalent a day to 6.5 million barrels. And, added that Qatar’s decision to withdraw from the 15-nation bloc was announced now as it was notified to the OPEC by year end.

The nation’s decision highlights its aspirations to increase production outside of the constraints of the cartel with the politics of offending the Saudi-dominated group in the midst of the boycott of Doha. The announcement poses questions on the role of the cartel after requiring non-members to push through a production cut in 2016 after prices crashed below USD 30 a barrel. And, this also marks the first time that a Middle East nation would have left the cartel since its founding in 1960.

Meanwhile, Al-Kaabi stated that in order to strengthen Qatar’s position as a reliable and trustworthy energy supplier across the globe, they had to take steps to review the nation’s role and contributions on the international energy scene. In this backdrop, there was reportedly no immediate comment from OPEC, which was to meet in the month to discuss possible production cuts.

The Gulf nation has around 2.6 million people of which over 10% of the population are citizens. The country discovered the North Field in 1971, which was the same year that it was declared independent. It is reported that it took engineers years to discover the vast reserves of the field. And, the discovery shot the country to No. 3 in world rankings reportedly behind Russia and Iran with which the nation shares the North Field. And, this contributed to the country’s wealth and facilitated its successful bid for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Meanwhile, the nation’s wealth has reportedly a larger importance in the international political scenario. And, its political stances have gained the rage of its neighbours, specifically Saudi Arabia, which is the largest exporter of OPEC. And, in June 2017, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) started a boycott of Qatar in a political dispute that allegedly continues to this day.

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