Qatar’s OPEC exit: political and industrial pros and cons
Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec.10
By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:
Withdrawal from OPEC aligns with Qatar’s long-term strategy of shifting focus towards gas and away from oil, according to Fitch Solutions Macro Research (a unit of Fitch Group).
The company believes this move will enable the country to work towards cementing its position as the world’s top LNG exporter.
In terms of politics, the move will create further political distance between Doha and Riyad that remain on opposite sides of the GCC diplomatic crisis, according to a report released by Fitch Solutions.
"Relations will likely keep on souring with GCC neighbours, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE (also Bahrain, and Egypt) that have imposed a trade and travel boycott on the country since June 2017 over allegations of Qatar supporting terrorism."
As for the industrial implications of Qatar’s exit for OPEC, the company doesn’t expect this move to significantly affect OPEC’s ability to influence the oil market.
"Qatar is a fairly small crude oil producer that accounts for about 600,000 barrels per day of the roughly 30 million barrels per day produced by all OPEC members. We therefore do not expect its departure to either decisively affect OPEC’s ability to influence the oil market, or have a substantial impact on the price of oil," said the report.
In the context of the upcoming OPEC meeting in Vienna, Fitch Solutions also notes that Qatar’s withdrawal could lead to an easier agreement on production cuts, as this will mean one less dissenting voice – although Qatar’s say in production cuts would have been fairly limited anyway.
The company believes that Qatar’s withdrawal could also set precedent and give incentive to other small producers to leave the cartel; would not necessarily decisively weaken OPEC’s influence over oil markets but does not help as OPEC is trying to attract new members, as illustrated by a recent expansion into Africa with the joining of Congo (Brazzaville) in June 2018 and Equatorial Guinea in May 2017.
"The equivalent of output gained by including these two new members will be offset by Qatar’s departure."
Qatar has announced it will withdraw from OPEC on 1 January 2019, putting an end to its 57-year membership of the producers’ cartel. Qatar, which said it intends to focus on its gas production, made the announcement ahead of the 6 December OPEC meeting.
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