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Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

an international organization concerned with coordinating the crude-petroleum policies of its member states

OPEC was created at the Baghdad Conference of September 10-14, 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The five founding states were subsequently joined by Qatar (1961), Indonesia (1962), Libya (1962), United Arab Emirates (1967), Algeria (1969), Nigeria (1971), Ecuador (1973-1992) and Gabon (1975-1994). Originally headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, it moved to Vienna, Austria, on September 1, 1965.

OPEC's objective is to coordinate and unify petroleum policies among member countries, in order to secure fair and stable prices for petroleum producers; an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations; and, a fair return on capital to those investing in the industry.

OPEC was not of great importance until the early 1970's, when increased international demand made oil a relatively scarce commodity. In 1973-1974 OPEC brought about a four-fold increase in the international price of crude petroleum to more than $11 per barrel; the price exceeded $30 per barrel by the early 1980's, helping to fuel inflation in many industrialized nations. Subsequently, the combined effects of conservation and recession in the oil-consuming nations weakened the oil market, leading to sharp declines both in petroleum prices and in OPEC's political and economic influence.

For more information see the OPEC website, at http://www.opec.org.

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This page was last updated on September 29, 2015.

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