Members of the OPEC:
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

OPEC is an alliance of states that currently has 15 member states. Except for Ecuador and Venezuela, all countries are located in Africa or the Middle East. OPEC's goal is the worldwide regulation of oil prices to the benefit of the participating countries through artificial shortages of raw materials, price agreements and taxation of oil exports.

The current member states cover an area of 12.56 million km² and about 538.34 million inhabitants. At its peak in the mid-1970s, OPEC controlled around 55 percent of global oil sales.

Official website:
Map of member countries: OPEC - Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
Algeria196944.18 M2,382,000 km²163.04 bn US$
Angola200734.50 M1,247,000 km²67.40 bn US$
Congo20185.84 M342,000 km²13.37 bn US$
Ecuador200717.80 M256,000 km²106.17 bn US$
Equatorial Guinea20171.63 M28,000 km²12.27 bn US$
Gabon19752.34 M268,000 km²20.22 bn US$
Iran196087.92 M1,745,000 km²359.71 bn US$
Iraq196043.53 M435,000 km²207.89 bn US$
Kuwait19604.25 M18,000 km²105.96 bn US$
Libya19626.74 M1,760,000 km²42.82 bn US$
Nigeria1971213.40 M924,000 km²440.83 bn US$
Qatar19612.69 M12,000 km²179.68 bn US$
Saudi Arabia196035.95 M2,150,000 km²833.54 bn US$
United Arab Emirates19679.37 M84,000 km²415.02 bn US$
Venezuela196028.20 M912,000 km² 

Founding and goals

OPEC was founded on September 14, 1960, after oil prices had reached a historic low. The national budgets of the then founding members were based primarily on the export of oil, so that some states ran into financial difficulties. With a cartel of the most important oil exporters at that time, attempts were made to coordinate the production volumes amongst themselves and to raise export prices to a higher level. In order to be able to regulate the selling prices, oil companies were nationalized to a large extent. The remaining private-sector industries were forced to pay high taxes on their oil exports.

By 1975, OPEC had grown to 13 countries, which could claim over 55 percent of the world's oil market. Only in the past 20 years have further oil deposits been developed worldwide that could supply the world market for a long time to come. OPEC's monopolistic influence on international trade prices has not reduced the price of oil. Even today, around 40 percent of global sales still come from OPEC countries.

At least every six months, the responsible ministers of the member countries meet in a joint meeting to discuss future measures. Here, production quotas and oil prices are determined jointly.

Indonesia left OPEC for the first time in 2008 because its oil reserves were dwindling and it even had to import oil itself. In 2015, the country rejoined, but was unable to maintain its status due to the production limits set by OPEC, and was soon regarded as a larger importer than exporter. Thus, Indonesia left the group again in 2016.

The most recent additions are Gabon (2016), Equatorial Guinea (2017) and the Republic of Congo (2018), all of which are by far the smallest oil producers among OPEC's members. Together, these three countries produce less than 2 percent of OPEC’s and less than 1 percent of the global market.

China's influence as a major consumer

After the turn of the millennium, China's economy developed explosively and the country needed large quantities of oil, which could no longer be covered by developing its own oil reserves and the previous import volumes. In the period from 2004 to 2015 alone, the amount of oil imported by China tripled and it was initially even assumed that the country’s oil reserves would be used up in a few decades. The price of crude oil rose to a record high of 66 US dollars per barrel in 2005.

Former member countries

Indonesia2016273.75 M1,914,000 km²1.186 tn US$