Qatar announced its withdrawal from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the world’s leading oil producing bloc of nations, effective 1 January 2019. 

Saad Sherida Al Kaabi, the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, made the announcement during a press conference in Doha. He said that Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, has already informed OPEC of the decision. The nation is ending its 57-year relationship with OPEC.

According to Al Kaabi, the decision to withdraw from OPEC comes from the country’s desire to focus on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production in the coming years. He mentioned that Qatar Petroleum plans to raise its production capability from 4.8 million barrels oil equivalent per day, to 6.5 million barrels during the next decade, as well as Qatar’s plan to build the largest ethane cracker in the Middle East.

Qatar has worked diligently during the past few years to develop a future strategy in the Oil and Gas sector based on growth and expansion, both in its activities in Qatar and internationally. This strategy has driven the expansion of our international upstream footprint to reach countries like Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Cyprus, Congo, South Africa, and the Sultanate of Oman.

In the next few months we will be announcing several major international partnerships. Our objective in this strategy is to remain focused on our core business and activities in Qatar, and to enhance Qatar’s international standing as the world’s leading natural gas producer.’

The minister said that in light of such efforts and plans, and to strengthen Qatar’s position as a reliable and trustworthy energy supplier across the globe, they had to take steps to review the country’s role and contributions to the international energy scene. He said that they sought to enhance that role, in a manner that helps achieve the country’s strategic objectives in the long term.

It has become clear to us that achieving our ambitious strategy will undoubtedly require focused efforts, commitment, and dedication to maintain and strengthen Qatar’s position as the leading LNG producer.’

He said that these were the factors considered, together with the size of the country’s oil production, that they decided to withdraw membership from OPEC.

Al Kaabi stressed Qatar’s pride in its international 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. He concluded the press conference by expressing gratitude to OPEC, on behalf on Qatar.