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Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

  • By: Barry D. Solomon
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a cartel of 12 major oil-producing nations that was founded in September 1960. Occasionally, there are economic arrangements whereby several interdependent firms in an industry collude to set prices, output, and market share for their product or products. When this arrangement is established formally and openly, it is called a cartel. While such an agreement would violate antitrust laws in the United States and other countries, because OPEC operates in international petroleum markets it is able to produce and sell oil in this manner, subject to short-term market conditions. OPEC has maintained its world headquarters in Vienna since 1965. Its ability to control international petroleum markets has varied over time, depending on demand, prices, reserve margins, ...

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