By Ahmet Dursun
ANKARA (AA) – Iran’s Oil Minister Bijen Namdar Zengene has called for examining the reasons behind Qatar’s decision to withdraw from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
“Qatar is facing major problems caused by some oil producers,” said Zangeneh during a meeting of the parliament’s energy commission on Tuesday, according to the official IRNA news agency.
“But Qatar is not among those oil producers,” he said.
On Tuesday, Iran’s representative to OPEC said unilateral decisions taken by OPEC Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee — led by Russia and Saudi Arabia– pushed Qatar to exit the organization.
On Monday, Qatar said it will withdraw from OPEC from January 2019.
Qatar’s energy minister, Saad al-Kaabi, said the decision came after Qatar, an OPEC member since 1961, reviewed ways to improve its role internationally and focus on its natural gas industry for its long-term strategy.
Qatar, the world's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter annually for almost a decade, produced 609,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil in October, compared to OPEC's 32.9 million bpd, or 1.8 percent of the cartel, according to OPEC's Monthly Oil Market Report in November.
The decision comes at a critical time when OPEC is expected to cut its production at its much-awaited meeting on Thursday in order to increase the falling prices.
Although the minister called the decision a "technical and strategic" change, Qatar has been under pressure by its neighbors since June 2017 with a political and economic boycott.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a trade and travel embargo on Qatar for over a year, alleging that the country supports terrorism.
According to OPEC's official website, Qatar is the smallest OPEC member country in terms of area and population covering an area of around 12 thousand square kilometers.
The country's proven crude oil reserves are 25.2 billion barrels at the end of 2017, according to BP's Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 report.
*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this story from Ankara