Qatar to withdraw from OPEC: Days before the December 6 OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) meeting, Qatar’s energy minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi on Monday morning announced the country’s withdrawal from OPEC by January 2019 to focus on natural gas production. The development was later confirmed by the country’s oil firm Qatar Petroleum. Qatar becomes the first Middle Eastern country to pull out of the OPEC after it joined the organisation in 1961.

Addressing a press conference at Doha, Saad al-Kaabi, added that OPEC was told of the decision on Monday ahead of the announcement. OPEC is an organisation of 15 oil producing countries that are accountable for nearly half of the world’s oil production. With a population of almost 2.7 million, Qatar is the smallest OPEC member country in terms of both area and population. Qatar’s oil exploration began in 1935 at the Dukhan field. Commercial exportation from the field started between 1939 and 1940. According to 2017 data released by the country, the total value of petroleum exports stands at $ 35,496 million while the marketed production of natural gas is 163,598.6 million cu. m.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut off ties with Qatar and imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on the Gulf state for allegedly supporting terrorism and proscribed opposition political movements like the Muslim Brotherhood. However, Qatar rejected the allegations levelled against it as baseless.

The quartet had even demanded that Qatar should shut down the Al Jazeera media network, expel Turkish troops from the country, cut off ties with Iran, and making reparation payments to the states which Doha summarily rejected as attempts to infringe its sovereignty.

More details awaited.

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