Qatar will pull out of OPEC amid tension with Saudi Arabia

Qatar will pull out of OPEC amid tension with Saudi Arabia

The surprise announcement from Qatar's minister of state for energy affairs, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, again throws into question the role of the cartel after needing non-members to push through a production cut in 2016 after prices crashed below $30 a barrel.

The minister said the withdrawal reflects his country's desire to focus on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production from 77 million tons per year to 110 million tons in coming years.

But it is one of the world's largest exporters of natural gas, responsible for meeting about a third of global demand.

The announcement comes ahead of the meeting by Opec and its allies including Russian Federation on 6-7 December to discuss cutting supply.

"We are not saying we are going to get out of the oil business but it is controlled by an organization managed by a country", said al-Kaabi.

Al-Kaabi said the decision to increase the supply of natural gas is to "develop a future strategy based on growth and expansion, both in its activities at home and overseas".

Kaabi said OPEC had been informed of the decision on Monday ahead of the announcement and that he would still attend the organisation's Vienna meeting later this week, his "first and last" as energy minister.

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An existing deal committing OPEC and non-members to cuts expires this year.

Delegates at OPEC, which has 15 members including Qatar, sought to play down the impact.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain started boycotting Qatar previous year, accusing Doha of funding militants across the Middle East and fostering ties with Iran, charges that Qatar denies. Benchmark Brent is trading at around $62 a barrel, down from more than $86 in October.

Relations within the organization are often frayed, including between Qatar and the group's de facto leader, Saudi Arabia. "It's a strategy decision".

The report added that the Qatari Army is set to receive more "Turkish weapons, which means that Turkish experts will likely be sent to Qatar to train soldiers", adding that Qatar, in return, will increase its investments in Turkey's military industry.

"For now, there is optimism that Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation are committed to keep the supply under control".

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