Qatar will withdraw from OPEC effective January 2019: Minister

Oil prices in 2018 OPEC oil production

Oil prices in 2018 OPEC oil production

The tiny, energy-rich Arab nation of Qatar announced on Monday it would withdraw from OPEC, mixing its aspirations to increase production outside of the cartel's constraints with the politics of slighting the Saudi-dominated group amid the kingdom's boycott of Doha.

The Gulf state said it would focus on gas production.

Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi said Qatar would withdraw from Opec, which it joined in 1961, in January.

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"Qatar is proud in its worldwide standing at the forefront of natural gas producers, and as the biggest exporter of LNG - the cleanest fossil fuel, which has given Qatar a strong and resilient economy", Qatar Petroleum also quoted Kaabi as saying.

Qatar is quitting the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting as it plans its long-term strategy.

The decision to quit the bloc of 15 oil-producing countries that account for nearly half of the world's oil production was confirmed by Qatar Petroleum, the country's state oil company.

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Now Qatar will be able to produce at whatever level it wants, she said, "but I wouldn't see it as a threat to Opec's efforts to cut their production because [Qatar] is not capable on its own of flooding the market".

Saad al-Kaabi, then-chief executive of Qatar Petroleum, gestures as he speaks to reporters in Doha on July 4, 2017. While there was no announcement on how much would be cut and for how long, the pact between the world's two biggest crude exporters was cheered by oil traders, with Brent jumping $2.42 to $53.35 and West Texas Intermediate up $2.60 at $62.06 on Monday.

It shares the world's largest known natural gas field, the North Field, with Iran.

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