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|04 December, 2018

Qatar's OPEC Exit: UAE says decision shows decline of Doha's "role and influence"

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A flag with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) logo is seen during a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producing countries in Vienna, Austria September 22, 2017.

A flag with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) logo is seen during a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producing countries in Vienna, Austria September 22, 2017.

REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Qatar announced on Monday it will leave the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC) starting next January to focus on gas, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) described Doha’s decision as a reflection of the decline of its “role and influence”.

The relationship between Qatar and several Arab states was impacted after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain decided to sever their diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar last year, accusing the Gulf Arab emirate of supporting terrorism and interfering in other Arab countries’ internal affairs.

Qatari minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Al-Kaabi said his country's decision to quit the important petroleum organisation that plays a key role in managing oil output does not mean it will not be involved in the oil business.

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“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,” Reuters reported quoting Al-Kaabi as saying on Monday.

Qatar produces around 600,000 oil barrels per day, Reuters said quoting Al-Kaabi, while Saudi Arabia produces around 10 million barrels, according to the website of Saudi English daily newspaper, Arab News, quoting data from 2017. Qatar is the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Al-Kaabi said Qatar will attend next Thursday’s oil output meeting that is scheduled to take place in Vienna, according to a Reuters’ video.

In reaction to Qatar’s decision,UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said in a tweet in Arabic: "The political aspect of Qatar's decision to quit OPEC is an admission of the decline of the role and influence in light of Doha’s political isolation. The economic aspect behind the withdrawal is less important and does not justify the decision at this time.

“Expect Qatari media platforms to start attacking OPEC,” he added.

Oil prices have sharply fallen starting late 2014 and continued in 2015 and 2016, prompting producers from the OPEC and others from outside the 15-country OPEC group to sign in December 2016, their first deal since 2001 to limit oil output. Oil prices have started to stabilise since last year.

The two groups have held several meetings since, with the most recent taking place last June.

The OPEC group includes Saudi Arabia, the world’s top exporter of oil, the UAE, Iran, Iraq and Qatar, along with other Latin American and African countries. The non-OPEC countries included that joined the December 2016 meeting included Russia, Bahrain, Brunei, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Sudan and South Sudan, along with others. 

(Compiled by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Mily Chakrabarty)
(yasmine.saleh@refinitiv.com)  

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