Stakeholders urge Nigeria to remain in OPEC as Qatar exits next year

As Qatar plans to quit the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) from January 1 next year, some stakeholders have insisted it is in the best interest of Nigeria to remain in the cartel.

It was learnt that Qatar is leaving OPEC as the country’s relations with its Arab neighbours go sour, ending a near six-decade-long membership of the oil price cartel.

The emirate’s oil minister told reporters on Monday the decision to leave the group of big oil exporting countries had come after Qatar reviewed the ways it could enhance its role abroad while shifting the focus of the country towards gas.

In the last political dispensation, the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources suggested that Nigeria should reconsider its continued membership of OPEC if it must reap the full benefits of the Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) deal with multinational oil companies.

Despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves, some stakeholders in the oil and gas space said it was better to remain in OPEC, claiming the organisation had remained committed to the interest of Nigeria.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, International Energy Services Limited, Dr. Diran Fawibe, who spoke to The Guardian on Monday, described OPEC as an association of oil producing member countries, which respects members’ decision to either remain or leave the group.He said Ecuador and Gabon, in the past, left the cartel and also returned when they saw the need to do so.

“Qatar must have its reasons for wanting to leave. But for Nigeria, I don’t think we have any reason to withdraw from OPEC. Nigeria has benefitted immensely since 1991 that we joined OPEC; there is no reason for us to withdraw.

The organization is not a perfect one, but we have controlled our production and export.” Fawibe said with a drop in production and net export, Qatar might have considered the exit option.

“With over two million barrels of crude oil production per day, we are still a substantial producer and net exporter. Our country is also well represented in OPEC.”

Omowumi Iledare, a professor of Petroleum Economics and Policy Research and the Director of Energy Information Division, Centre for Energy Studies, said currently OPEC could be grouped into four – Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, the countries with large reserves and population. He said Qatar’s exit from OPEC would not cause much structural impact on the cartel.

“It is in Nigeria’s interest to continue to be a member of OPEC. Now, we don’t have very clear policy direction, but OPEC provides global market dynamics, and Nigeria just leverage on its stance. OPEC fights for Nigeria’s needs, which we may not be able to address.“Being a member of OPEC allows us to conserve our oil for the future generation. It is an institution that has added much value to Nigeria.”

According to Financial Times, the move by Qatar to leave OPEC comes amid a deteriorating political situation between Qatar and its neighbours. Four Arab states — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt — have imposed a trade and travel embargo on the country since June last year over allegations that Qatar supports terrorism.But Saad al-Kaabi, Qatar’s oil minister, insisted the decision to quit OPEC, which the country joined in 1961, was not linked to the political and economic boycott.



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