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Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)


The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an intergovernmental organization of 13 nations, founded in 1960. Its main aim is to coordinate and unify petroleum policies among member countries to secure fair and stable prices for petroleum producers. This organization also provides an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations.


The phonetic pronunciation for “Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)” is: Organization: /ˌɔːrɡənaɪˈzeɪʃən/of the: /ʌv ðə/Petroleum: /pəˈtroʊliəm/Exporting: /ɪkˈspɔːrtɪŋ/Countries: /ˈkʌntriz/OPEC: /ˈoʊ.pɛk/

Key Takeaways

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  1. OPEC is an intergovernmental organization of 13 nations that was founded in 1960. It serves as a platform for oil-producing countries to collaborate on policies and regulate the oil market to ensure the stabilization of oil prices, providing a sustainable economic return for the member countries while also ensuring a reliable supply to consuming nations.
  2. Its current members include nations from Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Asia. These nations collectively possess over 80% of the world’s crude oil reserves. Thus, OPEC has considerable influence over the global oil market and prices, which can affect global economies.
  3. While OPEC can significantly influence global oil prices, it faces challenges in managing economic and geopolitical tensions among its members and external competitive pressures from non-OPEC oil-production countries. Moreover, the future dynamics of global energy supply, such as increased renewable energy and other forms of sustainable and nuclear energy, could potentially affect OPEC’s relevance and power in global energy governance.



The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is critically important due to its influential role in the global economic arena, particularly regarding petroleum politics. Comprised of 14 member countries, OPEC owns about 81% of the world’s total proven crude oil reserves. By coordinating and unifying petroleum policies within member countries, OPEC ensures the stabilization of oil markets in order to secure an efficient, economic, and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers, and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry. The organization’s power to control oil production rates essentially enables it to influence global oil prices, significantly impacting the worldwide economy.


The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an intergovernmental body that plays a pivotal role in the global oil market. The purpose of this organization lies primarily in the coordination and unification of petroleum policies among its member countries. At its core, the mandate involves ensuring stabilization in oil markets which can contribute to significant global economic growth. Offering a platform for member nations to strategize and collaborate their policies, OPEC aims to secure a steady income to these producing countries and fair return on capital to those investing in the petroleum industry.OPEC is a significant force in global economics, impacting the costs of fuel and the broader energy market. Its decisions on the production and distribution volumes directly influence the oil prices worldwide. Additionally, it carries weight in mitigating the potentially detrimental surplus production which could cause a steep fall in petroleum prices, adversely affecting the economies of the member nations. Hence, it’s not uncommon to see OPEC stepping in to restrict the production rates in an attempt to maintain or enhance global oil prices. Through efficiently managing the supply of oil, OPEC carries the potential to actively manipulate world economies.


1. 1973 Oil Embargo: This is one of the most well-known and impactful examples of OPEC’s influence. When a coalition of Arab states initiated the oil embargo in 1973 due to Western support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War, it caused severe petroleum shortages and economic crises, particularly in the United States and other countries dependent on foreign oil.2. The OPEC Price Band: Implemented in 2000, when OPEC aimed to stabilize the global oil market, they established a price band mechanism to keep crude oil prices between $22 and $28 per barrel. When prices moved outside this range, OPEC would adjust production levels in an attempt to bring prices back into the desired band.3. 2020 Oil Price War: OPEC, alongside Russia, participated in a price war that led to a significant drop in oil prices globally. The conflict began when OPEC and Russia couldn’t agree on the terms to cut oil production in response to the drop in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. OPEC recommended additional production cuts to stabilize prices, but Russia refused, leading to an overproduction and drop in oil prices.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)?

OPEC is a group consisting of 14 of the world’s major oil-exporting nations. It aims to coordinate the policies of the oil-exporting countries to secure fair and stable prices for petroleum producers.

When and where was OPEC established?

OPEC was established in Baghdad, Iraq, on 14th September 1960.

Who are the current member countries of OPEC?

As of 2022, OPEC consists of 13 countries: Algeria, Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

How does OPEC affect global oil prices?

OPEC can influence global oil prices by setting production targets for its member countries. If they decide to produce less oil, the supply decreases which can lead to increases in oil prices.

How often do OPEC members meet?

OPEC members usually meet at least twice a year in what is known as the OPEC Conference to coordinate their oil production policies.

Does OPEC’s decision influence non-member countries?

Yes. Even though non-member countries do not have to follow OPEC’s decisions, the output determined by OPEC can significantly affect global oil prices and thus influence oil production in non-member countries too.

What is OPEC+’s role in the world oil market?

OPEC+, which includes OPEC member countries and other oil-producing nations like Russia, plays a similar role as OPEC by coordinating production levels among its members to stabilize oil prices.

What are some criticisms of OPEC?

Critics often argue that OPEC operates as a cartel, manipulating oil prices and production levels to serve the member nations’ interests, which can negatively impact global economies, particularly those heavily reliant on oil imports.

Has the influence of OPEC changed over time?

Yes, the influence of OPEC on the global oil market has varied over time. It reached a peak in the 1970s but has been somewhat less influential in recent years in the face of increasing oil production from non-OPEC countries and renewable energy sources.

Related Finance Terms

  • Crude oil
  • Petroleum Export
  • Oil Reserves
  • Oil Production Quota
  • Energy Policy

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