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Global Intelligence Report - 7th December 2018

Refinery

Geopolitical Notebook

Sources

- Lawyer in UAE working with high-net-worth Russian clients
- UAE ministry official
- Economist in Dubai

Qatar Exits Cartel to Protect LNG

Qatar’s announcement that it will exit OPEC has sparked a flurry of media speculation. While Qatar holds that its move is in no way political, even if it is clearly economic in the sense that Qatar sees the future in LNG, not crude oil, politics still abound. But economically, this makes sense for Qatar, which wants to ensure that it’s LNG is governed by free trade as it grows—not a cartel.

It was also interesting timing considering that MBS recently mentioned Qatar in a positive light during his speech at the FII. There has been rampant speculation that part of Saudi Arabia’s deal with Turkey’s Erdogan to let up on the murder of Khashoggi was to end the conflict with Qatar that led to a blockade. We see no other explanation for MBS’ sudden change of heart on Qatar at the FII.

Our source in the government of UAE says that the GCC are viewing Qatar’s move to exit OPEC as purely political/geopolitical and not economic in any way. Their strategic goal here is to play to Trump by helping to weaken OPEC on one hand and to present themselves as “non-cartel” on the other hand to boost public image. It makes Qatar look modern, in other words, and the move was intended entirely for a Western audience, and specifically,…

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