The tiny, energy-rich Arab nation is locked in a diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia, which dominates OPEC, but al-Kaabi said that the move to leave the organization was not driven by politics. Moreover, OPEC only deals with crude oil, not the liquefied natural gas Qatar is better at producing, and the U.S.is a net exporter of liquefied natural gas anyway.
Qatar is OPEC's smallest oil producer with around 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) against the cartel's total output of roughly 33 million bpd. Oil and natural gas account for a substantial share of the country's gross domestic product, according to Opec.
Relations within the organization are often frayed, including between Qatar and the group's de facto leader, Saudi Arabia. OPEC and its allies, which have had a supply pact since 2017, meet in Vienna on Thursday and Friday to discuss supply cuts.
The cartel's largest member, Saudi Arabia, along with three other countries, has cut trade and transport ties with Qatar for the past 18 months, accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism and the Saudis' largest regional rival, Iran.
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The decision was announced on Monday by the country's Energy Minister, Saad al-Kaabi.
"Qatar has chose to withdraw its membership from OPEC effective January 2019 and this decision was communicated to OPEC this morning", the minister said.
Walking away from OPEC's production controls could mean Qatar may increase output after leaving the group, undermining efforts to support prices.
Saudi Arabia's production topped more than 11 million barrels daily last month.
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Doha will still be sending its delegates to the 15-member OPEC meeting in Vienna, where representatives from non-OPEC producers such as Russian Federation will also be in attendance. That rising supply, coupled with the Trump administration allowing many countries to continue to import Iranian oil despite his targeting of Tehran with sanctions, has seen global prices drop.
Al-Kaabi, who is heading Qatar's Opec delegation, said the decision is related to the country's long-term strategy and plans to develop its gas industry and increase LNG output to 110-million tonnes by 2024. OPEC nations like Ecuador, Gabon and Indonesia have either withdrawn or suspended their membership in the past, only later to rejoin.
Apart from petroleum, Qatar's other energy resources include natural gas.
International Brent crude oil futures were up $2.89 per barrel, or 4.9 per cent, at $62.35 a barrel. QNB's monthly monitor report for November noted the country's oil production fell to 570000/d in September from 612000b/d in August. Most of Alberta's oil is exported to the United States.
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