Qatar Current Affairs - 2020

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Qatar to leave OPEC from January 2019

Qatar has announced its withdrawal from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) from January 2019 and focus more on the production of natural gas. It makes Qatar first Gulf country to leave OPEC bloc of oil-producing countries led by Saudi Arabia.

Qatar has been member of OPEC since 1961 and its decision to pull out after more than five decades comes at turbulent time in Gulf politics. It is under boycott from its neighbouring gulf allies including Saudi Arabia for 18 months (since August 2017).

Key Facts

Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas (LPG) and 17th largest producer of crude oil (around 600,000 barrels per day). It also only holds around 2% of the world’s global oil reserves. The withdrawal decision reflects Qatar’s desire to focus its efforts on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production from 77 million tonnes per year to 110 million tonnes in the coming years. Being part of OPEC its oil production was steady with limited prospects for increases. Since 2013,  amount of oil Qatar produced has steadily declined from about 728,000 barrels per day (2013) to about 607,000 barrels per day (2017), or just under 2% of OPEC’s total output.

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

OPEC is an intergovernmental organization (or cartel) of 15 oil-exporting developing nations that coordinates and unifies the petroleum policies of its member countries. It was established in 1960 in Baghdad, Iraq by the first five members. Its headquarters are in Vienna, Austria.

Its mission is to coordinate and unify petroleum policies of its member countries and ensure stabilization of oil markets, in order to secure an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers,  steady income to producers and fair return on capital for those investing in petroleum industry.

OPEC member countries accounted for an estimated 43% of global oil production and 73% of the “proven” world’s oil reserves. Two-thirds of OPEC’s oil production and reserves are in its six Middle Eastern (west Asian) countries that surround the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

OPEC Members

  • Asia and Middle East: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia (de facto leader of OPEC), Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Qatar (to withdraw from January 2019)
  • Africa: Algeria, Angola, Libya, Congo Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon
  • South/Latin America: Ecuador and Venezuela

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Home Ministry revokes security clearance to Qatar-based English news channel Al Jazeera

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has revoked security clearance of Qatar government’s state-funded English news broadcaster Al Jazeera. It is believed that main reason for this revocation is considered to be over documentary made by Qatari channel on militancy in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), which Indian Government viewed as “biased”. Al Jazeera has reportedly filed petition for reviewing this decision.

Note: The role of MHA is limited to matter related to security clearance. The decision on cancellation of broadcasting licence of news channel is taken by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Key Facts

Foreign channels need security clearance from MHA and broadcasting clearance from Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Al Jazeera’s security clearance was valid from December 3, 2010, and expired on May 29, 2018. Earlier also Al Jazeera had was involved into controversy with Indian government before. In 2015, it had published an incorrect map of J&K. For this, Government had then suspended it for 5 days in which time they carried blank screen with a message running on it as instructed by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Some other channels who were rejected security clearances recently include ABC News, Focus NE TV, Voice of Nation, Jhankar News, Maa TV, Bhakti Sagar, M Tunes and Lemon News. In some cases channels have their permissions withdrawn for other reasons too such as owners seeking cancellations, non-operationalisation of channel, non-submission of documents.

MEA May 2018 notification

In May 2018, Ministry of External Affairs had reminded foreign journalists that it is mandatory for them to take prior permission before travelling to areas such as J&K as well as Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and parts of Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan as these are considered protected and restricted areas.

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