Qatar plans to quit Opec next year as relations with its Arab neighbors sour, ending a near-six decade long membership of the oil price cartel. The emirate’s oil minister told reporters on Monday the decision to leave the group of big oil exporting countries had come after Qatar reviewed the ways it could enhance its role abroad while shifting the focus of the country towards gas. The move comes amid a deteriorating political situation between Qatar and its neighbors.
Four Arab states — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt — have imposed a trade and travel embargo on the country since June last year over allegations that Qatar supports terrorism. However, Saad al-Kaabi, Qatar’s oil minister, insisted the decision to quit Opec, which the country joined in 1961, was not linked to the political and economic boycott. Qatar, which is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, is among the smallest oil producers in the group, pumping 609,000 barrels a day according to the Opec research arm’s October oil market report. Mr al-Kaabi said the country was seeking to increase LNG production from 77m to 110m tonnes each year.
The oil price surged on Monday after the US and China agreed to a 90-day truce in their trade war, agreeing at a weekend meeting in Argentina of the G20 not to impose additional trade tariffs. Brent crude rose 4.5 percent to $62.16 in early European trade, a six-session high that leaves it on course for its largest single-session gain since November 2016. West Texas Intermediate, the main US contract, was 5 percent higher at $53.49.