Qatar to exit OPEC

The oil-rich nation is leaving OPEC after a conflict with Saudi Arabia.

OPEC symbol
Source: Bloomberg

Qatar is leaving the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in January after furthering a dispute with Saudi Arabia. The country leaves after 57 years in the organisation.

Qatar’s conflict with Saudi Arabia

OPEC was founded in 1960 by oil-producing nations and Qatar joined a year later. The nation’s Energy Minister, Saad al-Kaabi, said that the nation is leaving to focus on producing more natural gas. However, a bitter feud with Saudi Arabia could also be at the root of the exit. The Middle Eastern nations severed ties with each other in 2017. Saudi Arabia has wielded great influence as the leader of the oil-producing nations, which has caused consternation among Qatar leaders.

‘Riyadh[Saudi Arabia] made a series of demands aimed at reining in its ambitious smaller neighbor, including that Qatar close down the Al Jazeera news channel’, noted National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Peter Kenyon.

al-Kaabi explained why Qatar was leaving while taking a subtle swipe at Saudi Arabia.

‘We are not saying we are going to get out of the oil business, but it is controlled by an organisation managed by a country. I would like to reaffirm Qatar's pride in its international standing at the forefront of the natural gas producers, and the biggest LNG producer in the world, as the cleanest fossil fuel known to mankind,’ said al-Kaabi.

What’s next for OPEC

Qatar will still be represented at OPEC’s meeting Thursday and Friday in Vienna. The country’s exit highlights a growing problem with the organisation’s attempt to put up a united front to limit oil production. Qatar’s exit from OPEC hasn’t had a negative effect yet. Oil prices rose about 5%, but was most likely because of the trade truce between China and the US.

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