Qatar's exit puts question mark on OPEC's future

OPEC headquarters in Vienna Austria

OPEC headquarters in Vienna Austria

Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi said Qatar would withdraw from Opec, which it joined in 1961, in January.

Qatar, OPEC's 11th-largest oil member by production, shocked market watchers on Monday with the announcement it would quit OPEC, adding additional bite to proceedings ahead of a meeting scheduled for Thursday in Vienna. "I would like to reaffirm Qatar's pride in its global standing at the forefront of natural gas producers, and as the biggest exporter of LNG".

Tensions have been mounting in the region in which Saudi Arabia imposed a boycott in June 2017 over claims that Doha supported terrorism, which Doha denied. "Qatar is proud in its worldwide standing at the forefront of natural gas producers, and as the biggest exporter of LNG - the cleanest fossil fuel, which has given Qatar a strong and resilient economy".

Asked if Qatar's withdrawal would complicate OPEC's decision this week, a non-Gulf OPEC source said: "Not really, even if it's a regrettable and sad decision from one of our member countries".

Qatar's decision "should not impact the decision to make production cuts this week", according to Kelty, who said "the real issue is the scale of any cuts, along with timeframe and baseline against which production will be reduced".

Following a drop in oil prices in autumn, members of the 15-country bloc, which was founded in 1960, were about to cut production, as Brent crude slumped to $60 a barrel from $86 in October.

Qatar plans to expand its role as the world's number one exporter of liquefied natural gas and boost production by more than 50 percent to 110 million tonnes a year.

Qatar also hosts the al-Udeid Air Base, the home of the forward headquarters of the US military's Central Command and about 10,000 USA troops. Other members include Algeria, Angola, Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. A Saudi-led coalition implemented a blockade on Qatar in June past year, severing diplomatic, trade and transport links as they accused Doha of funding extremist groups and being too close to Iran.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday he had no concrete figures on possible oil output cuts, though his country would continue with its contribution to reducing global production. The announcement was made by the Gulf state's new energy minister, Saad al-Kaabi, on Monday.

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