qatar has announced it is pulling out of the Opec oil producers’ cartel, just days before the group meets in Vienna.
The Gulf state, which joined Opec in 1961, said it would leave the cartel in January and would focus on gas production.
Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, has been boycotted by some Arab neighbours over allegations that it funds terrorism.
Opec is expected to cut oil supply at this week’s meeting.
Explaining Qatar’s decision, Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi said: “We don’t have great potential (in oil), we are very realistic. Our potential is gas.”
He said geopolitics was not factor in the decision.
Qatar’s withdrawal from Opec may not have any lasting impact on the price of oil as it a relatively small producer.
But this week’s meeting of Opec is being closely watched by markets for any agreement over cuts to production after the oil price fell sharply in November.
Analysis: Qatar grows apart from its Gulf neighbours
By Paul Blake, Middle East business reporter
Qatar is Opec’s 11th biggest oil producer – which is to say it’s one of the smallest producers in the cartel, clocking in at less than 2% of the group’s output.