Qatar's Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi said on Monday that the country would leave the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on January 1, 2019.

Iran PressMiddle East: Qatar's energy minister Saad al-Kaabi said that the country would leave OPEC and focus on gas production. Qatar's energy minister also denied the move was linked to an 18-month political and economic boycott of the country.

Qatar's withdrawal from OPEC is based on two reasons. The first reason is that it wants to focus on gas production, and the second reason is that Qatar is not an influential member of OPEC regarding the country's oil production rate.

Qatar is not a major oil producer when compared to other OPEC members. But, when looking at the small Gulf country's total energy output, it is on course to produce more than 6 million barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2022.

The future of OPEC is on shaky ground, after Qatar abruptly announced it would sever ties with the influential oil cartel after almost six decades.

The decision comes just days before OPEC and its allies are scheduled to hold a much-anticipated meeting in Vienna, Austria.

Tensions erupted between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in June 2017. It eventually led to the ending of diplomatic ties between the countries. The tensions encourage Qatar not to be under Saudi Arabia's shadow any longer even in the framework of OPEC.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 last year, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”

On June 9, 2017, Qatar strongly dismissed allegations of supporting terrorism after the Saudi regime and its allies blacklisted dozens of individuals and entities purportedly associated with Doha.

Later that month, Saudi Arabia and its allies released a 13-point list of demands, including the closure of Al Jazeera television network and downgrade of relations with Iran, in return for normalization of diplomatic relations with Doha.

The document containing the demands by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain also asked Qatar to sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement. Qatar rejected the demands as "unreasonable".

On Sep. 26, Qatar’s monarch Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani censured the ongoing Saudi-led diplomatic and trade boycott against his energy-rich country, as a blatant violation of international law.105/201

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