Qatar's exit puts question mark on OPEC's future

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Muscat: Oil prices are expected to surge in the near future after Qatar announced it would leave the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

Qatar will officially exit OPEC on January 1, the country's energy minister, Saad al-Kaabi, said at a news conference in Doha on Monday.

Qatar, which has been a member of OPEC for 57 years, will still attend the organization's meeting on Thursday and Friday of this week, and will abide by its commitments, he said. The Qataris are the smallest of the group's oil producers, extracting 600,000 bpd, but the largest natural gas producer in the world. Since then, Saudi Arabia has maintained a boycott against Qatar, a country that has sometimes pursued its own foreign policy goals against the will of its fellow Sunni states.

OPEC and some non-OPEC producers, led by Russian Federation, will discuss output levels at a meeting of the cartel that begins Thursday in Vienna.

Qatar has been a member of OPEC since 1961 but has been the target of a Saudi-led political and economic boycott since June 2017.

The news was confirmed by Qatari Energy Minister, Saad al-Kaabi.

"The decision by Qatar to quit OPEC is certainly a surprise, although it is more the timing of the announcement rather than the actual impact on OPEC supply that bears significance", Kelty said in a statement sent to Rigzone.

However, they're about to become one member light, as Qatar have confirmed they are pulling out of the organisation - a decision that could see petrol prices rise in South Africa.

The Gulf state's energy minister Saad al-Kaabi told a news conference in Doha it wanted to focus efforts on bolstering its dominance in liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. OPEC nations like Ecuador, Gabon and Indonesia have either withdrawn or suspended their membership in the past, only later to rejoin.

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 Monday by oil traders, with Brent jumping $2.60 to $62.06 and West Texas Intermediate up $2.42 to $53.35.

Experts in the global oil market described Qatar's decision to walk away as being inconsequential given Doha's limited oil output but expressed their surprising.

They say the crisis stems from Qatar's support for extremist groups in the region, charges denied by Doha. Prices in Omani crude also reflected a change, with the Dubai Mercantile Exchange reporting that Omani crude oil had increased by $2.05 to reach $61.42.

Among its members, Saudi Arabia is by far its largest oil exporter, hitting a record high in November of over 11 million barrels of oil a day.