By Eric Knecht
DOHA (Reuters) – Qatar said it will quit OPEC to focus on gas in a swipe at Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the oil exporting group which is trying to show unity in tackling an oil price slide.
Doha, one of OPEC’s smallest oil producers but the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, is embroiled in a row with OPEC members Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
It said the surprise decision to exit OPEC, which has 15 members including Qatar, in January was not driven by politics and it did not name Saudi Arabia, but Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad al-Kaabi said:
“We are not saying we are going to get out of the oil business but it is controlled by an organization managed by a country,” al-Kaabi said.
Qatar would attend an OPEC meeting scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Vienna and would abide by its commitments, he said, adding that Doha would focus on its gas potential.
This was because it was not practical “to put efforts and resources and time in an organization that we are a very small player in and I don’t have a say in what happens,” he added.