OPEC - Statistics & Facts

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a cartel of oil-producing countries which was established in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1961. OPEC generates approximately 44 percent of the world’s total crude oil production, and approxmately 21 percent of the world’s natural gas production. Moreover, OPEC owns more than four-fifths of total global crude oil reserves, and more than48 percent of global natural gas reserves. Given the high dependence of the world economy on oil and gas, OPEC’s influence on the world market is evident.

In 2017, the daily production of crude oil by OPEC countries stood at some 39.4 million barrels. Saudi Arabia is by far the largest crude oil producer among OPEC members, responsible for almost 12 million barrels per day in 2017. Saudi Arabia is also the largest exporter of crude oil. In 2017, about 6.9 billion barrels per day were exported from Saudi Arabia. That was more than one-quarter of the total OPEC crude oil exports that year. OPEC exports most of its oil to countries in the Asia-Pacific region. On the other hand, around 33 percent of the United States’ oil imports in 2017 were accounted for by oil from the OPEC. The total revenue from OPEC’s oil exports was estimated at around 718 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.

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 14 different oil blends, one from each OPEC member state. Among the better known blends are Arab Light from Saudi Arabia, Murban from the United Arab Emirates, and Bonny Light from Nigeria. As oil prices climbed up steadily from the mid-eighties, the OPEC crude oil price also showed a rapid increase over this period, until 2015, when oil prices fell dramatically from recent previous years. For example, the price for one barrel of the OPEC Basket stood at some 105.87 U.S. dollars in 2013. In 2017, the average price that year was decreased by about half, at 52.03 U.S. dollars per barrel. Prices improved to an average of 70.66 U.S. dollars per barrel in 2018, however. According to OPEC projections from 2016, increasing prices were to be expected at least until 2040. Although the projections for 2015 went unrealized by a large margin, it remains to be seen if OPEC's projections for 2020 through 2040 will be realized.

In recent years, OPEC's membership has changed somewhat. 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.

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OPEC - Important statistics

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