Reuters reported Monday that Qatar said it was quitting OPEC from January 2019, saying the decision meant Doha could focus on cementing its position as the world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter.
Doha, one of the smallest oil producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is locked in a diplomatic dispute with the group’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia but said insisted their exit from OPEC was not motivated by politics.
Saad al-Kaabi, Minister of State for Energy Affairs said in a news conference that Qatar would still attend the group’s meeting on Thursday and Friday this week, and would abide by its commitments.
The Middle-East nation has been a member of OPEC for 57 years, beginning their membership in 1961.
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 the world’s biggest exporter.
But Doha is an influential player in the global LNG market with annual production of 77 million tonnes per year, based on its huge reserves of the fuel in the Gulf.
Al-Kaabi, who is heading Qatar’s OPEC delegation, said the decision was not political but related to the country’s long-term strategy and plans to develop its gas industry and increase LNG output to 110 million tonnes by 2024.
“A lot of people will politicize it,” Al-Kaabi said. “I assure you this purely was a decision on what’s right for Qatar long term. It’s a strategy decision.”
He said Qatar Petroleum planned to raise its production capability from 4.8 million barrels oil equivalent per day to 6.5 million barrels in the next decade.
Doha also plans to build the largest ethane cracker in the Middle East.