The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is losing one of its founding members after Qatar indicated it would be exiting the group. According to one report from CBS, the move is a finger in the eye of Saudi Arabia, who has been applying pressure to the smaller Gulf state since 2017. Qatar’s withdrawal marks the first time in nearly 60 years a Middle Eastern country has left the organization. The announcement was made earlier in the week by Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, the Qatari energy affairs minister, and comes just days before OPEC is scheduled to meet on Thursday.
“In light of such efforts and plans, and in our pursuit to strengthen Qatar’s position as a reliable and trustworthy energy supplier across the globe, we had to take steps to review Qatar’s role and contributions on the international energy scene,” said al-Kaabi in a written statement, according to CBS.
After the country leaves OPEC, Qatar will turn its attention to natural gas, which it views as more lucrative in the long term. The Washington Post reports that al-Kaabi stated his country hopes to boost production of liquid natural gas (LNG) by 40 percent in the next few years. The energy minister also denied that the move has anything to do with Saudi Arabia, which has been accusing Qatar of facilitating terrorism.
The current leadership of Qatar has denied any official links to terrorism. The Washington Post reported in April that Qatar’s own Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani visited the White House earlier this year in an attempt to improve relations between the two countries. During that meeting, al-Thani explained how Qatar was working to stop terrorists from operating inside the country, yet days later, Qatar’s prime minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani was photographed with notorious terrorism financier Abd al-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nuaymi at the latter’s son’s wedding, according to a report from the Daily Mail.
The good news for crude producers is oil prices are beginning to rise after a meteoric fall during the last several weeks due to supply concerns. According to a report from Market Watch, crude prices are making steady gains in the lead up to the OPEC meeting on Thursday, as many investors believe the group will agree to cut output. A decrease of the global production would help ease the tensions stemming from the increase in world supply, which has been weighing heavily on oil prices since the Iranian sanctions took effect in November.