Just days before the cartel (along with its outside accomplices) is due to meet in Vienna for what could be another historic meeting, OPEC is dissolving right before our very eyes, as the perceived “US influence” over Saudi Arabia has strained ties within the bloc. As we pointed outon Friday, the increasingly “problematic” perception that Saudi Arabia is accelerating production to appease President Trump – and subsequently that the entire bloc’s policy is now subject to undue US influence – has reportedly brought several OPEC members to the verge of mutiny.
And on Monday, just hours after the conclusion of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Qatar announced that, after more than 55 years of membership, it would be leaving the bloc effective Jan. 1. While countries have left OPEC before, Qatar’s departure is more significant than its declining oil production might suggest: Since forming in 1960, no other Persian Gulf Countries have left (though Ecuador and Gabon once left, only to return, and Indonesia has suspended its membership).
Saad Sherida al-Kaabi
According to Al Jazeera, the Qatari television network, Qatari Energy Minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi broke the news overnight. It was later confirmed by Qatar’s state energy company, which clarified that Qatar would be leaving OPEC effective Jan. 1.
Qatar announces it was withdrawing from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries “OPEC” effective 1 January 2019.
Qatar, of course, has every reason to be angry with the Saudis. A blockade against Qatari exports remains intact following the GCC crisis of summer 2017. And just like then, when we pointed out that the “real reason for the Qatar crisis was natural gas”, so the Qataris have teased that they are leaving OPEC to “focus on LNG”.
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