On Thursday, December 6th, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is scheduled to hold its 175th Ordinary Meeting at the organization’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria. The following day, Friday the 7th, the Fifth OPEC and Non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting is scheduled to take place, also at the OPEC Secretariat in Vienna. These two days of high level meetings are expected to set global market expectations as the fifteen members of OPEC and other major energy producing countries, particularly Russia, agree on oil supply and output levels for the coming months.
However, Thursday’s Ordinary Meeting is expected to be contentious given the recent announcement by the government of Qatar that the country intends to withdraw its OPEC membership. Given the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and the growing tensions between Qatar and some of its neighbors, notably Saudi Arabia and the United Araba Emirates (UAE), this decision by the government in Doha should not come as a surprise. The withdrawal of Qatar marks a historic moment for OPEC as the organization’s membership continues to skew more towards African oil producers at the expense of Middle Eastern ones. Currently, OPEC has seven African members (Angola, Algeria, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, and Nigeria), two Latin American members (Ecuador and Venezuela), and six Middle Eastern members (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE).
Qatar and OPEC’s General Meeting this Week
The State of Qatar is an absolute monarchy located in the Arabian Peninsula along the Persian Gulf. With a total territory of 11.586 square kilometers, Qatar is almost the same size as Connecticut. Geographically, Qatar is dominated by a flat barren desert and a coastline of 563 kilometers along the Persian Gulf. Currently, Qatar has a total population of 2.4 million citizens, with an average age of 33 years. Furthermore, about 99% of the population lives in an urban setting, notably the capital city of Doha with its 633.000 inhabitants, many of which are foreigners.
The annual gross domestic product (GDP) of Qatar is US$340 billion (PPP) and the national economy has experienced positive economic growth upwards of 1.6% in recent years. As of today, the national economy is divided into 1% agriculture, 50% manufacturing, and 49% services. Similarly, the national agriculture industry utilizes about 6% of the national territory.
In terms of natural resources, Qatar has petroleum, fish, and natural gas. Within manufacturing, the national industry is focused on the production of liquefied natural gas, refined oil, ammonia, fertilizers, petrochemicals, steel reinforcing bars, cement, and commercial ship repair. Simultaneously, the country’s agricultural industry has as main products fruits, vegetables, poultry, dairy products, beef, and fish.
In terms of trade, Qatar is the world’s 45th largest export economy. During 2016, the country imported US$32.3 billion worth of goods and exported US$55.7 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of US$23.4 billion.