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Qatar to withdraw from OPEC and focus on gas exports

December 04/2018

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Qatar said on Monday it was quitting OPEC from January 2019 but would attend the oil exporter groupís meeting this week, saying the decision meant Doha could focus on cementing its position as the worldís top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, reported Reuters.

Doha, one of the smallest oil producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is locked in a diplomatic dispute with the groupís de facto leader Saudi Arabia but said the move to leave OPEC was not driven by politics.

Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad al-Kaabi told a news conference that Qatar, which he said been a member of OPEC for 57 years, would still attend the groupís meeting on Thursday and Friday this week, and would abide by its commitments.

"Qatar has decided to withdraw its membership from OPEC effective January 2019 and this decision was communicated to OPEC this morning," the minister said.

"For me to put efforts and resources and time in an organization that we are a very small player in and I donít have a say in what happens ... practically it does not work, so for us itís better to focus on our big growth potential," he said.

One OPEC source told Reuters the decision was more symbolic than anything else. "They are not a big producer, but have played a big part in itís (OPEC) history," the source said.

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

Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultancy Energy Aspects, said Qatarís withdrawal ďdoesnít affect OPECís ability to influence as Qatar was a very small player."

OPEC and its allies, including Russia, are expected to agree on a supply cut at this weekís meeting in a bid to support crude prices that have slid almost 30 percent since October.

Oil prices surged about 5 percent on Monday after the United States and China agreed to a 90-day truce in their trade war, but Brent crude is still trading at around USD62 a barrel, well below Octoberís peak of more than USD86.

Al-Kaabi, who is heading Qatarís OPEC delegation, said the decision was not political but related to the countryís long-term strategy and plans to develop its gas industry and increase LNG output to 110 million tonnes by 2024.

OPEC members, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and fellow Arab states Bahrain and Egypt, have imposed a political and economic boycott on Qatar since June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges and says the boycott aims to impinge on its sovereignty.

"A lot of people will politicize it," Al-Kaabi said. "I assure you this purely was a decision on whatís right for Qatar long term. Itís a strategy decision."

"We will make a big splash in the oil and gas business soon," he said.

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.

As MRC wrote before, in October 2018, Qatar Petroleum (QP), the worldís top supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG), announced further increase in the capacity of Qatarís LNG expansion project, by adding a fourth liquefaction train, to raise the country's liquefied natural gas capacity to 110 million t/y.


mrcplast.com
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:crude and gaz condensate, gas processing, QP, Qatar, Saudi Arabia.
Category:General News
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