The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC as it is frequently known, is an organization made up of 15 countries. The 15 nations that are a member of OPEC produce about 44% of the world’s oil and own over 81.5% of the world’s oil reserves. Because of this, the intergovernmental organization works together to coordinate and unify policies primarily surrounding the pricing of oil.
Through its policies, OPEC aims to provide a steady supply of oil to consumers, while also providing a steady income for the oil producers and a return for investors. In addition to regulating pricing, the organization also provides information about the international oil market.
The organization was original launched in 1960 in Baghdad by five founding members: Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, Kuwait, and Iraq. In 1965, OPEC’s headquarters was set up in Vienna, Austria, where it remains today.
There are a total of 15 nations that are members of OPEC. Two are located in South America, six in the Middle East, and seven in Africa. These nations include:
- Equatorial Guinea
- Republic of the Congo
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
Of these nations, the six nations in the Middle East own two-thirds of the organization’s total production and reserves. Saudi Arabia is the de facto leader of the organization. The nation of Indonesia was once part of OPEC but announced that it would be leaving the organization in 2008 because it would not be able to meet the production quota. However, the nation returned in 2016 but left again under a temporary suspension. Throughout the years, there have been many observers of OPEC meetings, including Mexico, Norway, Oman, Russia, and Egypt.