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A 1020 Vienna, Obere Donaustrasse 93
Phone: +43-(0)1- 211 12 - 0
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an international cartel made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. The Vienna-based organization has maintained its headquarters there since 1965, hosting regular meetings between the oil ministers of its member states.
The principal aim of the organization, according to its Statute, is the determination of the best means for safeguarding their interests, individually and collectively; devising ways and means of ensuring the stabilization of prices in international oil markets with a view to eliminating harmful and unnecessary fluctuations; giving due regard at all times to the interests of the producing nations and to the necessity of securing a steady income to the producing countries; an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations, and a fair return on their capital to those investing in the petroleum industry."

OPEC's influence on the market has been called into question. Several members of OPEC alarmed the world and triggered high inflation across both the developing and developed world when they used oil embargoes in the 1973 oil crisis. OPEC's ability to control the price of oil has diminished somewhat since then, due to the subsequent discovery and development of large oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea, the opening up of Russia, and market modernization. OPEC nations still account for two-thirds of the world's oil reserves, and, in 2005, 41.7% of the world's oil production, affording them considerable control over the global market. The next largest group of producers, members of the OECD and the Post-Soviet states produced only 23.8% and 14.8%, respectively, of the world's total oil production. As early as 2003, concerns that OPEC members had little excess pumping capacity sparked speculation that their influence on crude oil prices would begin to slip.
 
History
Venezuela was the first country to move towards the establishment of OPEC by approaching Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in 1949, suggesting that they exchange views and explore avenues for regular and closer communications between them. In September 1960, the governments of Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela met in Baghdad to discuss the reduction in price of crude oil produced by their respective countries. As a result, OPEC was founded to unify and coordinate members' petroleum policies. Original OPEC members include Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Between 1960 and 1975, the organization expanded to include Qatar (1961), Indonesia (1962), Libya (1962), the United Arab Emirates (1967), Algeria (1969), and Nigeria (1971). Ecuador and Gabon were members of OPEC, but Ecuador withdrew on December 31st, 1992[10] because they were unwilling or unable to pay a $2 million membership fee and felt that they needed to produce more oil than they were allowed to under the OPEC quota. Similar concerns prompted Gabon to follow suit in January 1995. Angola joined on the first day of 2007. Indonesia is reconsidering its membership having become a net importer and being unable to meet its production quota. The United States was a member during its formal occupation of Iraq via the Coalition Provisional Authority. Indicating that OPEC is not averse to further expansion, Mohammed Barkindo, OPEC's Secretary General, recently asked Sudan to join. Iraq remains a member of OPEC, though Iraqi production has not been a part of any OPEC quota agreements since March 1998.
Economics
Since currently worldwide oil sales are denominated in U.S. dollars, changes in the value of the dollar against other world currencies affect OPEC's decisions on how much oil to produce. For example, when the dollar falls relative to the other currencies, OPEC-member states receive smaller revenues in other currencies for their oil, causing substantial cuts in their purchasing power. After the introduction of the euro, pre-invasion Iraq decided it wanted to be paid for its oil in euros instead of US dollars causing OPEC to consider changing its oil exchange currency to euros. Member states Iran and Venezuela have undergone similar shifts from the dollar to the euro.

OPEC decisions have had considerable influence on international oil prices. For example, in the 1973 energy crisis OPEC refused to ship oil to western countries that had supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War or October War, which they fought against Egypt and Syria. This refusal caused a fourfold increase in the price of oil, which lasted five months, starting on October 17, 1973, and ending on March 18, 1974. OPEC nations then agreed, on January 7, 1975, to raise crude oil prices by 10%. At that time, OPEC nations — including many who had recently nationalized their oil industries — joined the call for a new international economic order to be initiated by coalitions of primary producers. Concluding the First OPEC Summit in Algiers they called for stable and just commodity prices, an international food and agriculture program, technology transfer from North to South, and the democratization of the economic system.
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