12/03/2018, 11.10
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Qatar abandons Opec and focuses on natural gas

Doha withdraws membership from the oil exporting countries as of January 2019. The emirate will continue to comply with production commitments like other non-OPEC nations. The choice is the result of an industrial plan, untied by the dispute in progress with Saudi Arabia.

Doha (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Qatar intends to abandon the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) from January next year announced Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi today. He added the decision is not dictated by the dispute that has been going on for over a year between Doha and Riyadh. Rather, it is a choice in perspective of an energetic, economic and strategic nature.

Doha - one of the smallest oil producers, but at the same time the world's largest exporter of natural gas - wants to strengthen its international position in the energy sector. At the same time, the leaders of the country are working out a new long-term strategy that intends to focus on the gas industry.

In a press conference, the Energy Minister explained that "Qatar has decided to withdraw from OPEC starting from January 2019" and "the choice will be announced this morning" to the organization's directors. The Doha representative will still be present at the meeting of the OPEC member countries scheduled in Russia on December 6 and 7, which will discuss - among others - a cut in production.

Minister Saad al-Kaabi explains that it was not an easy choice, given that Qatar was an OPEC member for 57 years, but the impact on production has always been low. He also clarified that Doha will continue to comply with production commitments like all other non-OPEC nations.

The emirate therefore aims to strengthen its position in the natural gas industry, with the aim of increasing production from 77 million to 110 million tons annually. At the same time, the choice is not linked to the economic and diplomatic controversy that, for over a year, has pitted Doha against Saudi Arabia, the latter supported by other Gulf nations and the Muslim world.

According to analysts and experts the Qatar and Saudi Arabia standoff originates from links between Doha and Teheran, which also recently confirmed the reciprocal economic and diplomatic support. In fact, behind the controversy - which has isolated a small emirate in the Gulf area, bringing it closer to the Islamic Republic, Turkey and Morocco - there would be a conflict within Sunni Islam between Doha and Abu Dhabi.

According to some analysts and experts, close Qatari-Iranian relations are the cause of the clash between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The controversy has isolated a small emirate in the Gulf area, bringing it closer to the Islamic Republic, Turkey and Morocco. In fact, Qatar and Iran recently reiterated their mutual economic and diplomatic support . Others blame the rivalry between Doha and Abu Dhabi among Sunnis for the crisis.

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