Qatar will withdraw from OPEC effective January 2019: Minister

Qatar pulls out of Opec oil producers' cartel

Qatar is to leave the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries next month, the Gulf state's new energy minister, Saad al Kaabi, announced on Monday.

OPEC, which Qatar joined in 1961, was informed of the decision ahead of the announcement, he said.

He added, "Qatar has worked diligently during the past few years to develop a future strategy based on growth and expansion, both in its activities at home and overseas".

The minister said the withdrawal reflects his country's desire to focus on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production from 77 million tons per year to 110 million tons in coming years.

Qatar has oil output of only 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), compared with the 11 million bpd produced by Saudi Arabia, the group's biggest oil producer and world's biggest exporter.

The withdrawal comes as other non-Opec countries such as Russian Federation have gained more clout alongside Saudi Arabia in setting oil policy.

"We don't have great potential [in oil], we are very realistic". Brent crude oil prices slid to below $60 a barrel last week while USA crude fell below $50 a barrel.

Qatar has spend the last year-and-a-half battling attempts by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (both of them are members of the Opec) to isolate it in the Middle East. Doha denies the charges and says the boycott aims to impinge on its sovereignty. The decision was made after Qatar reviewed ways to enhance its role internationally and plan its long-term strategy, al-Kaabi also said. "If you aren't on board with a tough decision like to reduce, and Qatar was never in that position since it is a relatively small producer", she said, then you have no sway. "We will make a big splash in the oil and gas business soon", he said.

Qatar is to pull out of Opec after almost 60 years of membership of the oil cartel, but will attend a meeting this week that will discuss cutting output.

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