Qatar has announced that it will leave OPEC next month. The announcement was made by the Gulf state's new energy minister, Saad al-Kaabi, on Monday.
"Qatar has decided to withdraw its membership from OPEC effective January 2019," Kaabi said at a Doha press conference.
"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.
"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," Qatar Petroleum also quoted Kaabi as saying.
It marks the first time a Mideast nation has left the cartel since its founding in 1960. Kaabi said Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, planned to increase its exports from 77 million tons of gas per year to 110 million tons. He also said Qatar wants to raise its oil production from 4.8 million barrels of oil equivalent a day to 6.5 million barrels.
He added that OPEC was told of the decision on Monday ahead of the announcement. There was no immediate comment from Vienna-based OPEC.
Oil prices up
Oil prices soared on Monday after Russia and Saudi Arabia renewed an agreement to cap output, while the US agreed to halt raising tariffs on Chinese imports, stalling a trade row that many feared could hit demand for the commodity.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday he and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "have agreed to extend our agreement" to limit production as prices slump on global markets.
An existing deal committing OPEC and non-members to cuts expires this year. While there was no announcement on how much would be cut and for how long, the pact between the world's two biggest crude exporters was cheered by oil traders, with Brent jumping $2.42 to $53.35 and West Texas Intermediate up $2.60 at $62.06 on Monday.