Qatar has announced its decision to leave crude oil producer cartel Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) next month.

The move will bring an end to the country’s 60-year OPEC membership.

This decision comes as Qatar is locked in a row with Saudi Arabia, the de-facto leader of the producer group, and other neighbours.

Since June last year, Qatar has been under a trade embargo imposed by four Arab nations – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt.

On the latest decision, Doha did not cite political issues as the reason for its withdrawal from the membership.

The country expects to focus on natural gas production.

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Qatar is one of the smallest producers of OPEC, with oil output of 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), compared with its neighbour Saudi Arabia, which is the group’s biggest producer with an output of around 11 million bpd. Doha is, however, a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer with annual production of 77 million tonnes a year.

“al-Kaabi said the country aims to raise its LNG production to 110 million tonnes per annum.”

Qatar Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad al-Kaabi was quoted by media sources as saying: “Qatar has decided to withdraw its membership from OPEC, effective January 2019.

al-Kaabi said the country aims to raise its LNG production to 110 million tonnes per annum.

Despite the withdrawal, the Middle Eastern nation will take part in the OPEC meeting to be held later this week in Vienna.

The members are expected to impose crude production cuts to address the excessive supply in the oil markets.