Iran reacts to Qatar’s withdrawal from OPEC

حمید بعیدی نژاد

Tehran (ISNA) – In a reaction to the news about Qatar’s withdrawal from OPEC, Iranian ambassador to UK, Hamid Baeidinejad said, “Qatar’s surprise decision made as a result of prolonged economic and travel blockade imposed against Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its neighbors”.

“Qatar will withdraw from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in January, as the Persian Gulf state faces a prolonged regional clash with rival Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s attempt to impose its policies against OPEC and increase of the role of non-OPEC members including Russia have undermined the effectiveness of the organization,” Baeidinejad wrote on his official Twitter account, referring to remarks made by Qatari Energy Minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi.

Qatar framed the surprise decision, which ended nearly six decades of membership in OPEC, as a move to focus the country’s resources on exports of liquefied natural gas. The decision also comes amid a more than year-long feud between Qatar and its neighbors. Led by Saudi Arabia, a coalition of Arab Gulf states broke off relations with Qatar and imposed an economic and travel blockade in June 2017 after accusing Qatar’s government of sponsoring terrorism.

Qatari Energy Minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi said in a news conference Monday that the decision was not related to the political clash and that Qatar was leaving the oil cartel to work on plans to boost its natural gas production by more than 40 percent in the coming years.

Doha, one of OPEC’s smallest oil producers but the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, is embroiled in a row with OPEC members Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

It said the surprise decision to exit OPEC, which has 15 members including Qatar, in January was not driven by politics and it did not name Saudi Arabia, but Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad al-Kaabi said: “We are not saying we are going to get out of the oil business but it is controlled by an organisation managed by a country,” al-Kaabi said.

Qatar would attend an OPEC meeting scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Vienna and would abide by its commitments, he said, adding that Doha would focus on its gas potential.

Qatar joined OPEC in 1961, one year after its founding members—Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. There are now 15 members. A few countries have left in the past, though some have rejoined. The most recent to leave was Indonesia in 2016, after it become a net importer of oil.

The Qatari decision is another reminder of one of OPEC’s biggest problems: an inability to show unity.

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