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Qatar to withdraw from OPEC

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By Emma Beswick
Saad al-Kaabi, chief executive of Qatar Petroleum.
Saad al-Kaabi, chief executive of Qatar Petroleum.   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon/File Photo
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Qatar announced Monday it would withdraw from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on January 1, 2019.

The Gulf nation's Energy Minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi made the announcement on Monday at a news conference in Doha.

"The withdrawal decision reflects Qatar's desire to focus its efforts on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production from 77 million tons per year to 110 million tons in the coming years," al-Kaabi said.

Qatar Petroleum, the country's state oil company, confirmed the news on Twitter.

OPEC is an intergovernmental organisation of 15 nations that, along with Russia, accounts for almost half of the world's oil production.

Qatar was put under an economic embargo by some neighbouring countries, including Saudi Arabia, who cited Qatar's alleged support for terrorism as the main reason for their actions. The small state increased its gas production in response.

The peninsula is the first Gulf country to leave the bloc after nearly 60 years of membership. It joined back in 1961.

OPEC and Russia announced over the weekend that they had agreed on new cuts in oil production to ensure the commodity's price did not drop too far in the coming months.