Qatar set to leave OPEC in January as Middle East spat worsens

Qatar pulls out of Opec oil producers' cartel

"Qatar has chose to withdraw its membership from OPEC effective January 2019", Kaabi said at a Doha press conference.

Michael Burns, an oil and gas partner at law firm Ashurst, said Qatar's decision to leave OPEC is "a very interesting development".

Mr al-Kaabi said Qatar was planning to ramp up its LNG operations as demand grows thanks to its less harmful environmental impact when compared to oil.

Amid the uncertainty over oil, Qatar's focus on natural gas can help the country gain allies.

Iran has been angered by higher production from Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation, which chair a panel called the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC), after calls from U.S. President Donald Trump to pump more oil to offset a drop in Iranian exports hit by U.S. sanctions.

According to report, OPEC and non-OPEC members are expected to meet in Vienna, Austria on Thursday, December 6, with the aim of reaching an accord over possible output cuts.

Kaabi announced the break with OPEC just weeks after he was appointed to the energy minister post.

Qatar may be a small producer but the impact of any member leaving OPEC at this time reflects growing feeling of discomfort among members in how decisions are being managed, said another expert.

OPEC is responsible for one-third of the world's oil output and members have to abide by strict production quotas.

Qatar quit OPEC today in a sign of some of the strife within the organization. "They debated 'what does the withdrawal mean to OPEC and global energy market and to Qatar?", market sources told The Peninsula.

He 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. With these factors together, the nation is cutting ties with OPEC.

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 Monday by oil traders, with Brent jumping $2.60 to $62.06 and West Texas Intermediate up $2.42 to $53.35. But the move also draws another line of division with Saudi Arabia, the only country with which Qatar shares a land border.

The low oil price benefits consumers in the USA as well as countries such as Turkey and Pakistan, which depend on imports to meet their energy needs.

Oil also received support from an announcement by the Canadian province of Alberta that it would force producers to cut output by 8.7 percent, or 325,000 barrels per day (bpd), to deal with a pipeline bottleneck that has led to crude building up in storage.

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