OPEC generates approximately 40 percent of the world’s total crude oil production, and approximately 16 percent of the world’s natural gas production. Moreover, OPEC owns roughly four-fifths of total global crude oil reserves. Given the high dependence of the world economy on oil and gas, OPEC’s influence on the world market is evident.
In 2019, the daily production of crude oil by OPEC countries stood at some 35.6 million barrels. Saudi Arabia is by far the largest crude oil producer and also the leading exporter of crude oil among OPEC members. In 2019, about 7 billion barrels were exported from Saudi Arabia per day. That was nearly one-third of the total OPEC crude oil exports that year. The total revenue from OPEC’s oil exports, excluding Iran, was estimated at around 593 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.
OPEC also has an eminent impact on the global oil price development. Its benchmark for crude oil prices is the so-called OPEC Reference Basket (ORB). It is an average price of 12 different oil blends, one from each OPEC member state, with the exception of the Republic of the Congo. Among the better-known blends are Arab Light from Saudi Arabia, Murban from the United Arab Emirates, and Bonny Light from Nigeria. The OPEC crude oil price showed a rapid increase between 2000 and 2012. In the following years, prices fell dramatically as the United States ramped up shale production, leading to an oil glut. Despite oil prices recovering to an annual average of 64.05 U.S. dollars per barrel in 2019, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will likely result in the 2020 annual average being notably lower.
In recent years, OPEC's membership has changed somewhat, with Ecuador formally leaving the organization in early 2020. In January 2019, Qatar, one of the oldest members, left OPEC. Before that, Indonesia left OPEC in November 2016 after having rejoined OPEC earlier that year following an absence since 2009. On the other hand, Gabon rejoined OPEC in July 2016 after having previously left OPEC in January 1995, while Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of the Congo joined in 2017 and 2018, respectively.