Qatari energy minister says leaving OPEC not political — our voice doesn’t count

Leaving OPEC was a purely strategic decision and had nothing to do with politics, Qatari Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi told CNBC on Wednesday.

The energy-rich Gulf state announced plans to pull-out of the syndicate on Monday, just days before a meeting between the influential cartel and its allies in Vienna, Austria. Qatar will withdraw from OPEC on January 1, ending a membership that has stood for more than half a century.

Neighboring countries have enforced an 18-month political and economic boycott of Qatar but al-Kaabi said the move was not political but in fact made strategic sense as the country transitioned towards liquefied natural gas (LNG) production.

“We didn’t see ourselves fitting anymore (in OPEC),” he told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in Vienna.

“I suggested to our leadership that we should exit OPEC. I know people and media would love to politicize this and they have politicized it — even in my country when you look at some of the media — because they don’t know the facts,” he added.

On Qatar losing influence at OPEC, al-Kaabi said there was little to be lost: “We are a small player and I don’t think that our voice counts.”

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