Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi held talks in Qatar with officials including his former Qatari counterpart Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.
Al-Naimi declined to comment today upon his arrival at a hotel in Doha, the Qatari capital. Al-Attiyah, the country’s deputy prime minister, said al-Naimi was visiting for “consultations,” declining to elaborate. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest crude exporter, and neighboring Qatar is the biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas.
Al-Naimi met with Qatari Energy Minister Mohammed al-Sada. A press conference scheduled to follow the talks was canceled.
Tension has escalated between Gulf Arab nations including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both with Sunni-majority populations, and their Shiite neighbor Iran. Saudi Arabia and Qatar export their hydrocarbons though the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf that Iran has threatened to block if Western nations tighten sanctions over its nuclear program.
Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran share membership in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which provides 40 percent of the world’s oil. Saudi Arabia pumped 9.61 million barrels a day of oil last month, and Iran, OPEC’s No. 2 producer, supplied 3.48 million barrels a day, according to data published in the group’s monthly oil market report. Qatar produced 820,000 barrels a day, according to the report, which is based on secondary sources.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also investing in renewable sources of energy to reduce their reliance on crude and gas. Qatar will host the annual United Nations climate change conference this year.