Why Qatar Is Better Off Without OPEC

One of the many disasters for Saudi Arabia that has come after the accession of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) as its effective leader was the ostracism of neighboring Qatar, to such a degree that the tiny but influential emirate left OPEC in December last year after 57 years as a core member. Not only did this compound MbS’s growing reputation as being politically and economically reckless but it also pushed the gas-rich Qatar out of the increasingly small U.S.-coalition in the Middle East straight into the welcoming arms of Iran and its friends. As a result, plans have been re-energized by Russia for a newly powerful ‘Gas OPEC’ – formed of the Gulf Exporting Countries Forum members, with Russia, Iran, and Qatar centre-stage – and have led to Qatar working alongside Iran on optimizing the two states’ gas fields.

The main gas resource of each – by a vast amount – is the shared 9,700 kilometer (km) non-associated natural gas basin, of which 3,700 km forms Iran’s South Pars field, with the remaining 6,000 km being Qatar’s North Field. Although the overlap across the border between Qatar’s eastern-most offshore phases of North Field and Iran’s western-most offshore phases of South Pars does not cover the entirety of the gas reservoir – the world’s largest natural gas field, holding an estimated 51 trillion cubic metres (Tcf) of gas and 7.9 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas condensates – it is nonetheless significant. Until Qatar withdrew from OPEC last year, Iran had been....

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