Qatar says it is quitting the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) from January 2019 to focus on exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Speaking to reporters Monday in Doha, the country’s minister of state for energy affairs, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, made the surprise announcement, saying that the world's largest exporter of LNG plans to increase its exports from 77 million tons of gas per year to 110 million tons.
"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,'' al-Kaabi said.
Qatar also wants to raise its oil production from 4.8 million barrels a day to 6.5 million barrels, he said.
The tiny, energy-rich Arab nation is locked in a diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia, which dominates OPEC, but al-Kaabi said that the move to leave the organization was not driven by politics.
Qatar, which has been a member of OPEC for 57 years, will still attend the organization’s meeting on Thursday and Friday of this week, and will abide by its commitments, he said.
The Vienna-based oil cartel did not make any immediate comment.
Meanwhile, oil prices soared on Monday after Russia and Saudi Arabia renewed their agreement to cap output, while the United States and China agreed not to impose any new tariffs during a 90-day period during which the two sides are to negotiate a detailed agreement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday he and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had agreed to extend the agreement to limit production as prices drop on global markets.
An existing deal between OPEC and non-member states on oil production quotas expires this year.