DOHA – Qatar announced on Monday its intention to withdraw from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in order to focus on its plans to increase natural gas production, according to the Minister of State for Energy Affairs.
State-owned Qatar Petroleum, of which Saad Sherida al-Kaabi is CEO, said on Twitter that OPEC was informed of the country’s withdrawal, which is set for Jan. 1.
“The withdrawal decision reflects Qatar’s desire to focus its efforts on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production from 77 million tons per year to 110 million tons in the coming years,” the minister was quoted as saying at a press conference in Doha.
“Qatar is proud in its international 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,” al-Kaabi added.
Al-Kaabi went on to explain that the decision had nothing to do with the Saudi-led bloc that broke diplomatic and transportation links with Qatar last year, allegedly over its support for terrorist groups, an accusation that Doha has denied.
Qatar, which has been an OPEC member since 1961, is the largest exporter of natural gas in the world, with about 128,645 million cubic meters per year, according to the OPEC.
Qatar, the smallest OPEC member country in terms of population and territory, has the third largest natural gas reserves in the world, calculated at 23,861 billion cubic meters.