The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a cartel of twelve countries made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. The organization has maintained its headquarters in Vienna since 1965, and hosts regular meetings among the oil ministers of its Member Countries. Indonesia's membership from OPEC was voluntarily suspended recently as it became a net importer of oil. OPEC's influence on the market has been widely criticized. Several members of OPEC alarmed the world and triggered high inflation across both the developing and developed world when they used oil embargoes in the 1973 oil crisis. OPEC's ability to control the price of oil has diminished somewhat since then, due to the subsequent discovery and development of large oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea, the opening up of Russia, and market modernization.

Venezuela was the first country to move towards the establishment of OPEC by approaching Iran, Gabon, Libya, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in 1949, suggesting that they exchange views and explore avenues for regular and closer communication among petroleum-producing nations. In 10-14 September 1960, at the initiative of the Venezuelan Energy and Mines minister Juan Pablo PĂ©rez Alfonzo and the Saudi Arabian Energy and Mines minister Abdullah al-Tariki, the governments of Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela met in Baghdad to discuss ways to increase the price of the crude oil produced by their respective countries. OPEC was founded in Baghdad, triggered by a 1960 law instituted by American President Dwight Eisenhower that forced quotas on Venezuelan and Persian Gulf oil imports in favor of the Canadian and Mexican oil industries.

As a result, OPEC was founded to unify and coordinate members' petroleum policies. Original OPEC members include Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Between 1960 and 1975, the organization expanded to include Qatar (1961), Indonesia (1962), Libya (1962), the United Arab Emirates (1967), Algeria (1969), and Nigeria (1971). Ecuador and Gabon were members of OPEC, but Ecuador withdrew on December 31, 1992 because they were unwilling or unable to pay a $2 million membership fee and felt that they needed to produce more oil than they were allowed to under the OPEC quota. Similar concerns prompted Gabon to follow suit in January 1995. Angola joined on the first day of 2007.Russia and Norway joined as non-permanent members in the organisation in early 2000. In May 2008, Indonesia announced that it would leave OPEC when its membership expired at the end of that year, having become a net importer of oil and being unable to meet its production quota. A statement released by OPEC on 10 September 2008 confirmed Indonesia's withdrawal, noting that it "regretfully accepted the wish of Indonesia to suspend its full Membership in the Organization and recorded its hope that the Country would be in a position to rejoin the Organization in the not too distant future.


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