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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. The initial five member states were Ian, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Today, it encompasses 13 members in total.

OPEC’s role in the world’s oil industry

OPEC’s global crude oil production share is approximately 37 percent and it also accounts for 16 percent of the world’s natural gas production. Moreover, OPEC owns roughly four-fifths of 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 2020, oil production in OPEC countries per day stood at some 30.6 million barrels. Saudi Arabia is by far the largest crude oil producer and also leading the list of global oil exports of OPEC countries. In 2020, about 6.7 million barrels were exported from Saudi Arabia per day. That was nearly one-third of the total OPEC crude oil exports that year. OPEC’s net oil export revenue, excluding Iran, was estimated at around 397 billion U.S. dollars in 2021.

What makes up the OPEC basket?

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 has been particularly volatile in the past decade. Most recently, in 2020, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the 2020 annual average falling to 41.47 U.S. dollars per barrel. The following year, prices had recovered to an average of nearly 70 U.S. dollars, higher than the 2019 average.

Change in OPEC membership

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.

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