The small, gas-rich state of Qatar said on Monday it would leave the oil cartel on January 1, after nearly 60 years of membership. The country's state oil company, Qatar Petroleum, announced this in a series of tweets.
"The withdrawal decision reflects Qatar's desire to focus its efforts on developing and increasing its natural gas production," Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, the country's energy minister, quoted in one of the tweets
Qatar the world's leading exporter of liquefied natural gas and accounts for about 30% of global demand.
It will be the first country in the Middle East to withdraw from OPEC, which deals exclusively with oil production. Qatar's contribution was low compared to some of the largest producers of the cartel, such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Of the nearly 25 million barrels per day, all members of OPEC pump around 600,000 barrels a day.
"Qatar is a pretty small producer … it did not produce much, so it's not that important in itself," said Robin Mills, CEO of Qamar Energy, a Dubai-based consulting firm. "But it's a disappointment for OPEC because it's trying to attract members."
OPEC expanded in Africa, Congo and Equatorial Guinea recently joined. "Adding this up, [the production] is synonymous with Qatar's, so it somehow lost the equivalent [output] of these new members," Mills added.
Qatar has been a member of OPEC since 1961. It said the organization knew of its decision to retreat. 19659012]