Qatar’s withdrawal from OPEC is a surprise for Oman’s oil minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhi, who said in an interview with S&P Global Platts on Monday that Qatar might face retaliation from other members that could pull out of a similar organization of gas exporting countries.
Earlier on Monday, Qatar announced that it was withdrawing from OPEC effective January 1, 2019, and had informed OPEC of this decision, Qatar Petroleum said.
Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs, said that the decision for the withdrawal “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.”
However, the motives probably run much deeper than prioritizing natural gas at the world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
OPEC’s de facto leader and largest producer Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt, and several other states cut ties with Qatar in June last year, accusing it of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region.
Oman, whose oil minister spoke to Platts in Vienna on Monday, is not a member of OPEC but is part of the Russia-led group of non-OPEC producers part of the production cut deal, which has been in place for nearly two years now. Oman is also a member of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alongside Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, and Bahrain.
Oman’s Al Rumhi warned that Qatar could face retaliation for its withdrawal from OPEC from countries that could withdraw from the Doha-based Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).
“A number of countries could pull out because of Qatar’s position,” Al Rumhi told Platts. “I can tell you for sure the UAE will pull out of that organization, I don’t think they will continue, and who knows other countries like Algeria that are members of OPEC,” Oman’s oil minister noted.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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