From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : OPEC + members
Mains level : Global oil price dynamics
Oil prices jumped by close to 10% for its biggest daily gain in almost six months after news of a highly effective vaccine against COVID-19 and Saudi Arabia’s assurance that an OPEC+ oil output deal could be adjusted to balance the market.
- OPEC stands for Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
- It is a permanent, intergovernmental organization, created at the Baghdad Conference in 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.
- It aims to manage the supply of oil in an effort to set the price of oil in the world market, in order to avoid fluctuations that might affect the economies of both producing and purchasing countries.
- It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
- OPEC membership is open to any country that is a substantial exporter of oil and which shares the ideals of the organization.
- Today OPEC is a cartel that includes 14 nations, predominantly from the middle east whose sole responsibility is to control prices and moderate supply.
What is OPEC+?
- The non-OPEC countries which export crude oil along with the 14 OPECs are termed as OPEC plus countries.
- OPEC plus countries include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.
- Saudi and Russia, both have been at the heart of a three-year alliance of oil producers known as OPEC Plus — which now includes 11 OPEC members and 10 non-OPEC nations — that aims to shore up oil prices with production cuts.
Why OPEC plus came into existence?
- When Russia concluded the Vienna Agreement in 2016, the Russian leadership believed that it would help prepare the country for the Russian presidential elections in March 2018.
- Higher oil prices ensured the Kremlin’s financial capacity to lead a successful electoral campaign.
- This changed the regime’s priorities – from satisfying the needs of the general population to ensuring the sustainability of the Kremlin’s alliance with powerful tycoons, including that controlling oil production.
- For Saudi Arabia, turning what had been an ad hoc coalition into a formal group provides a hedge (protection) against future oil-market turbulence.
- For Russia, the formalization of the group helps expand Putin’s influence in the Middle East
- However, both reportedly aimed at causing a drop in oil prices in order to hit US shale producers, who have continued to benefit from OPEC production cuts by expanding their market share.