Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

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Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
Flag of the OPEC

Member States of OPEC:
AlgeriaAlgeria Algeria (1969)
AngolaAngola Angola (2007)
Equatorial GuineaEquatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea (2017)
Congo RepublicRepublic of the Congo Republic of the Congo (2018)
LibyaLibya Libya (1962)
NigeriaNigeria Nigeria (1971)
GabonGabon Gabon (1975–1994, 2016)
IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia (1962–2008,
middle East
IraqIraq Iraq (1960)
IranIran Iran (1960)
QatarQatar Qatar (1961-2018)
KuwaitKuwait Kuwait (1960)
Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (1960)
United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates (1967)
South America
EcuadorEcuador Ecuador (1973–1992, 2007–2020)
VenezuelaVenezuela Venezuela (1960)
OPEC headquarters in Vienna
OPEC member states

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (short OPEC , of English Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ) is a Founded in 1960, international organization based in Vienna . The cartel currently consists of thirteen countries: Algeria , Angola , Equatorial Guinea , Gabon , Iran , Iraq , the Republic of the Congo , Kuwait , Libya , Nigeria , Saudi Arabia , the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela . Indonesia left at the end of 2016. Qatar left OPEC in January 2019. Ecuador left OPEC in late January 2020.

Five OPEC members (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates) are among the ten largest oil producers in the world. Overall, the OPEC member states produce around 40 percent of global oil production and have three quarters of the world's oil reserves. After some non-OPEC countries have exceeded their oil production maximum , the influence of OPEC is expected to increase. On the other hand, some experts (e.g. Matthew Simmons ) question the information on the reserves, such as that of Saudi Arabia.


The goal is a monopolized oil market, which can protect itself against price formation on the world market by setting production quotas for the individual OPEC members and regulating oil production. Through the artificial shortage or increase in oil production, the price of crude oil worldwide is to be lowered, stabilized or increased in such a way that it lies within a specified target price corridor, as agreed by all OPEC member countries. This target price corridor is variable, but is a guide value over a longer period of time.

However, it also happens that individual members do not adhere to the fixed funding quotas, but rather pursue their own economic and political goals. For example, Indonesia announced its exit in 2008, as the OPEC price expectations for the larger domestic market are more burdensome than could be compensated for by expensive exports. (Indonesia became a net importer in 2008 due to decreasing production volumes, so it lost its ability to produce more oil than it needs for its own consumption.)

Algeria, Iran, Libya and Venezuela in particular are considered OPEC hardliners. OPEC chairman Chakib Khelil spoke openly on the French broadcaster France 24 of possible price increases of up to $ 400 per barrel , provided that there was agreement.

Other OPEC countries are also giving in to the demands of the industrialized countries for less reduced production quotas against the risk of a recession. As a countermeasure, on the other hand, some OPEC countries are again increasingly operating in the markets with solvent financial investors. This works in such a way that state index investors invest more heavily in the traded commodity indices through their own sovereign wealth funds than the so-called speculators often cited in the media.

Cartel properties

In terms of cartel theory, OPEC can be classified as follows:

  • Commodity cartel: for crude oil.
  • Supply cartel: it is about strengthening the seller side on the world market.
  • Production cartel: the world market prices are to be brought in the desired direction through production restrictions (more rarely through expansion).
  • Quota cartel: the cartel management assigns individual production quotas to the member states that add up to 100%.
  • State cartel : only states, no companies are members.


Production in millions of tons
Rank worldwide
Country 2000 2018 Share
2. Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 455.0 578.3 12.9
5. IraqIraq Iraq 128.8 226.1 4.9
6th IranIran Iran 189.4 220.4 4.9
8th. United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates UAE 123.1 177.7 4.0
9. KuwaitKuwait Kuwait 109.1 146.8 3.3
12. NigeriaNigeria Nigeria 105.4 98.4 2.2
16. VenezuelaVenezuela Venezuela 167.3 77.3 1.7
17th AngolaAngola Angola 36.9 74.6 1.7
18th AlgeriaAlgeria Algeria 66.8 65.3 1.5
21st LibyaLibya Libya 69.5 47.5 1.1
31. Congo RepublicRepublic of the Congo Republic of the Congo 13.1 17.0 0.4
35. GabonGabon Gabon 16.4 9.7 0.2
36. Equatorial GuineaEquatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea 4.5 8.7 0.2
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC total 1747.8 39.0


The highest organs of OPEC are:

The Ministerial Conference
Each member state is represented in this most important decision-making body by the government minister responsible for oil and energy. Each member state is weighted equally (one vote). A quorum of three fifths is required for valid decisions (currently nine out of fourteen members), unanimity is required for all material decisions (thus all questions except procedural questions). Full members who have not attended the conference can retrospectively appeal and thus prevent decisions made. At the proposal of the conference, non-members can be invited to the conference as observers. During the conference, a delegate (minister) is elected President , who presides over it and retains the title until a new successor is elected at the next ordinary meeting. The conference determines the goals and policies of the organization and determines its strategy, is the only body that can change the statutes, decides on membership and elects the other essential bodies. In addition, a general clause places all competences of the organization that are not expressis verbis assigned to other organs within the competence of the Ministerial Conference . The venue is usually the headquarters of the organization in Vienna.
The Board of Governors
Each member state sends a governor to the Board of Governors for two years (the Ministerial Conference has a veto on this). The Board of Governors implements the Organization's policy as set out in principles by the Conference of Ministers, prepares the Organization's budget and makes recommendations to the Conference of Ministers. The Board of Governors should meet for at least two annual meetings.
The secretary
The secretariat is responsible for the executive power of the organization in compliance with the statutes and for observation by the board of governors. It consists of the Secretary General and the staff necessary to carry out his duties.

The following bodies also exist:

Secretary General
According to the statutes, the general secretary is the official representative and the most senior official of the organization. He coordinates the activities of the organization in accordance with the instructions of the Ministerial Conference. The Ministerial Conference appoints the GS at the proposal of the member states for a period of three years; re-election is possible once. The GS is supported in the performance of its work by a staff of employees, namely two directors (those of the Research Division and those of the Support Services Division) and the seven department heads. The current Secretary General is Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo .

A General Legal Council and an internal auditor have also been set up.


The so-called President of OPEC is actually only the President of the Ministerial Conference and as such is only called to chair the meeting at which he was elected. He remains in office until the next meeting of the Ministerial Conference (which takes place every six months in accordance with the statutes).

Mode of action and sphere of influence

The organization works as follows: The ministers responsible for energy and oil from the OPEC member countries meet three times a year for a ministerial conference to assess the state of the oil market and to initiate appropriate measures aimed at ensuring a stable oil market while at the same time managing their own oil To secure profits. This conference will then reveal the new guidelines. The key guidelines are the definition of oil production quotas, which have been linked to the existing reserves since 1985. The Ministerial Conference can initiate sanctions if the specified quotas are exceeded . (However, this has not yet occurred because the states concerned have significantly - and apparently also artificially - corrected their oil reserves upwards in the past .)

The secretariat is responsible for public relations. He is also responsible for research in the field of energy and finance, and statistics are also compiled and published. Lectures and seminars are also the responsibility of the secretariat. It also has a large library open to Member State representatives, researchers and students. The secretariat is financed by contributions from the Member States. The representative of OPEC is the general secretary who is also the head of the secretariat. This is either elected for three years or appointed alphabetically for two years on a rotating basis. Departments of the Secretariat are: Research, Energy Studies, Economy and Finance, Data Services, Human Resources and Administration, OPECNA (OPEC News Agency), Office of the Secretary General and Legal.


Because the world market share of the OPEC countries has continuously decreased in recent years, the organization is increasingly relying on cooperation with non-OPEC countries such as Russia , Kazakhstan , Mexico and Oman . In the press there is talk of OPEC +

In December 2017, Russia and OPEC agreed to extend the production cut of 1.8 million barrels / day until the end of 2018.

In April 2020 during the COVID-19 - pandemic , was held a virtual conference of OPEC +. The largest producing countries agreed to cut production by 9.7 million barrels per day for May and June 2020. This corresponds to around ten percent of the world's daily crude oil production. From July to December 2020, production is to be reduced by eight million barrels of oil a day, and then by six million barrels between January 2021 and April 2022. With these measures, which Saudi Arabia and Russia in particular insisted on, OPEC wants to push the oil price , which has recently fallen sharply, up again.


During the 1950s, the oil price fell continuously due to the development of new sources and the associated oversupply on the world market, which led to heavy losses in the state coffers of the oil-producing countries. As a result, by 1960 several of them found themselves in serious budget crises. In this situation, Saudi Arabia suggested the establishment of a promotional cartel. It was not only intended to control the amount of oil produced, but also to act as a counterweight to the large oil companies, which, on the basis of contracts from the colonial era, made their profits largely without the participation of the states on whose territory the oil wells were located.

The organization was founded in Baghdad on September 14, 1960. The founding members were Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Eight other states joined by 1975: Qatar (1961), Indonesia and Libya (1962), the United Arab Emirates (1967), Algeria (1969), Nigeria (1971), Ecuador (1973) and Gabon (1975). Ecuador and Gabon left in 1992 and 1995, respectively. Angola joined in 2007 , and on November 17, 2007, Ecuador returned to the organization after a 15-year hiatus. On July 1, 2016, Gabon also rejoined the organization. Indonesia left in January 2009, re-admitted in December 2015, and left again in December 2016.

The first measures agreed were extensive nationalization of the oil wells, future agreements on production volumes and increased taxation of the oil companies. The latter should open up a source of money independent of the production volume. At first, OPEC remained largely ineffective and was also assessed as having little impact worldwide, especially since it only comprised a small part of the producing countries. Until the end of the 1960s it could do little against the secret cartel of the Seven Sisters , which each government of the OPEC countries played off against the other.

  • In 1965 the headquarters were relocated from Geneva to Vienna (Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring, since 2012 Universitätsring ). The federal states agreed on a common subsidy policy to support prices.
  • In 1970 a decision was made to raise the price of crude oil by 30 percent and the taxes of the oil companies to be raised to at least 55 percent of net income.
  • In 1971, after negotiations with other oil companies, crude oil prices were raised, and OPEC continued to aim for a state share of over 50 percent. Nationalization did not take place until 1974.
  • From 1972 onwards, the price of oil rose from US $ 2.89 per barrel to US $ 11.65 in 1973; after OPEC declared an oil boycott on Western countries in response to the Yom Kippur War . At that time, the OPEC countries produced 55 percent of the world's oil. This period is known as the first oil crisis .
  • Between 1974 and 1978 oil prices were increased by five to ten percent, usually every six months, to compensate for the inflation of the US dollar.
  • 1975 Hostage-taking in Vienna's OPEC main building by terrorists under the leadership of terrorist Carlos
Old OPEC headquarters on the Danube Canal (2005)
  • In 1977 the cartel moved to the Danube Canal .
  • 1979 second oil crisis . After the Islamic Revolution , the price of oil was raised from US $ 15.5 to US $ 24 per barrel; Libya, Algeria and Iraq even charged 30 US dollars for their oil.
  • In 1980 the high price policy of OPEC was at its peak, Libya demanded 41 US dollars, Saudi Arabia 32 US dollars and the remaining OPEC states 36 US dollars per barrel.
  • In 1981 oil sales decreased. The industrialized countries were in recession and due to the first oil crisis and the high oil prices, many countries invested in alternative energy sources, which between 1978 and 1983 reduced global oil consumption by 11 percent and OPEC's world market share to 40 percent.
  • In 1982 it was decided to reduce production, but this was not adhered to. The OPEC share in world oil production fell to 33 percent and in 1985 to only 30 percent, the production sank to the lowest value of 17.34 million barrels per day.
  • In 1983 oil prices were reduced from US $ 34 to US $ 29 per barrel and the production quota was throttled from 18.5 to 16 million barrels per day. The OPEC cartel lost power.
  • In 1986 the price fell to less than ten US dollars per barrel due to global overproduction of crude oil and the attempt by some OPEC countries to improve their position on the world market by reducing prices. As a result of this sharp drop in prices, OPEC was in a crisis, which prompted the ministers to hold meetings with the IPEC states , the "Independent Petroleum Exporting Countries", in 1988 , but these had no great effect.
  • In 1990 the target price was increased from US $ 18 to US $ 21 per barrel. The price target was only met due to the Gulf War and the invasion of Kuwait.
  • In the years 1990 to 1994 the production volume was increased by 8.5 percent, nevertheless the income from the oil export fell from an average of 143 billion to 126 billion dollars per year.
  • The price of oil in April 2005 was around 55 US dollars per barrel. On August 11, 2005, US oil prices hit the then record high of 66 US dollars. The main reason for this was the Chinese economic boom. In 1990, China exported five times more oil than it imported. As of 1993, China imported more oil than it exported. Since 2003, it has imported more crude oil than Japan. In 2004 the People's Republic of China imported 120 million tons of crude oil and oil products.
  • In the first 11 months of 2015, China imported 6,610,000 barrels of crude oil per day, or 302.3 million tons excluding petroleum products. OPEC estimates that around 23 percent of the growth in demand for oil will come from China in the next 20 years. According to statements made by the German Association of the Mineral Oil Industry in July 2006, the usable oil reserves have been growing faster than demand for years, which according to market laws should actually lead to falling prices; however, this does not apply in a monopoly.
  • South Korea proposed to set up the union of the oil-importing countries as a counterweight to the OPEC power.
  • In 2007, Ecuador rejoined the cartel after 15 years of absence.
  • In 2008, Indonesia announced its exit, as declining oil production can no longer meet domestic demand and Indonesia will have to import oil.
Entrance on Helferstorferstraße (2015)
  • 2009 Relocation from the building on the Danube Canal to the new premises in Wipplingerstraße at the corner of Helferstorferstraße near the Vienna Stock Exchange in the first district of Vienna .
  • In 2010 the new building in Vienna was officially opened on March 17 at the 156th OPEC meeting, chaired by Germánico Pinto . The rental costs of almost 1.8 million euros will be borne equally by the Republic of Austria and the City of Vienna.
  • Nearly 7 years after leaving, Indonesia has announced that it will rejoin OPEC in December 2015. Despite efforts to keep oil production as high as possible, the country remains a major net importer of oil and oil products. Experts suspect that OPEC no longer only wants to bring export shares under its control, but rather crude oil production itself. Since Indonesia did not pay the annual membership fee, its membership ended in December 2016. At the moment, Indonesia seems to be interested again, but is refusing to participate in the funding cuts.
  • Gabon is returning to OPEC on June 1, 2016 after a 22-year hiatus. It is by far the smallest oil producer in OPEC.
  • Equatorial Guinea officially joined OPEC on May 25, 2017. The West African state produced around 250,000 barrels a day and had reserves of 1.1 billion barrels of oil according to the CIA Factbook.
  • The Republic of Congo was accepted as a new member of OPEC at the 174th conference on June 22, 2018.
  • 2019: Qatar left OPEC in January. The government cites the planned expansion of its own gas production as an official reason for this.
  • 2020: At the end of January 2020, Ecuador left OPEC.

See also

Web links

Commons : OPEC  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. OPEC: Home. Retrieved April 22, 2020 .
  2. ^ Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries: Member Countries. November 2018, accessed on November 14, 2018 .
  4. Quotenkartell Betriebswirtschaft-Lern, accessed on October 24, 2019.
  5. ^ Andreas Forner: Economics. Introduction to the basics. Springer-Verlag, 2013, p. 147.
  6. ^ BP: Statistical Review of World Energy June 2019
  7. a b c BP World Energy Review 2019. BP, accessed on May 6, 2020 .
  8. OPEC: Conference Presidents In: , accessed on February 19, 2018.
  9. Sharp Trader Staff: OPEC to extend production cuts throughout 2018. November 30, 2017, accessed December 23, 2018 (American English).
  10. OPEC countries hope for higher oil prices ,, April 10, 2020.
  11. OPEC states agree on historical limitation of the output , Handelsblatt, April 13, 2020.
  12. ^ Frederick Henry Gareau: The United Nations and Other International Institutions: A Critical Analysis . Chicago 2002, p. 84.
  13. China's November crude oil imports
  14. Indonesia leaves Opec. In: The Economist Press. May 28, 2008. Retrieved September 11, 2018 .
  15. OPEC: Press Release No 11/2009 from November 20, 2009
  16. OPEC 156th Meeting Concludes Accessed on 19 March 2010
  17. Net Oil Importer Indonesia set for Surprising Return to OPEC (English)
  18. ^ Indonesia May Return To OPEC But Won't Cut Production
  19. Gabon returns to OPEC
  20. CIA Factbook: Equatorial Guinea
  21. OPEC main page: Equatorial Guinea facts and figures (English)
  22. ^ OPEC 174th Meeting concludes. In: . June 22, 2018, accessed June 22, 2018 .
  23. Qatar is leaving OPEC. December 3, 2018, accessed December 3, 2018 .