Qatar, a member since 1961, is leaving to focus on its natural gas production and has informed the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries of its decision, Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi told a news conference in Doha on Monday. A spokesman for the group declined to comment.
Qatar is OPEC's 11th-biggest oil producer, accounting for less than 2 percent of total output, so its departure is most significant for any potential impact on the group's cohesion. The surprise announcement comes just days ahead of a pivotal meeting, as OPEC members and allies weigh joint production cuts to stabilize a market that suffered its worst month in more than a decade. It is the first Middle Eastern nation to leave OPEC.
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