Qatar announced its decision to leave OPEC on January 1, as the country's state oil company, Qatar Petroleum, informed. This is part of Qatar's attempts to give emphasis on natural gas production, the Minister of state for energy affairs, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, explained.
Qatar has been a member of OPEC since 1961, but it decided to leave the organization on January 1st, to focus on increasing its natural gas production, Mr. Al-Kaabi noted.
Qatar is currently experiencing an embargo by its Arab neighbours, including OPEC members Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, CNN reports. In order to deal with this situation, it decided to increase its gas production.
However, OPEC does not participate in the natural gas market. Qatar mentioned that it now wants to establish itself as a key player in the natural gas market, as today its exports make for around 30% of global demand.
In order to achieve this goal, an ambitious growth strategy, as well as commitment to be a leader in the natural gas market, is needed Mr. Al-Kaabi believes.
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to leave OPEC. In the most recent development, Indonesia had also OPEC left in 2009 and rejoined in 2016, for no more than a year. What is more, Gabon also joined the group again two years ago, in 2016, after having left for over 20 years.
Commenting on this decision, Robin Mills, CEO of Qamar Energy, a consultancy firm based in Dubai, said that OPEC it is disappointed, as it is now trying to gather more members.
However, according to reports, OPEC knew about Qatar's intention to leave.