Organization Of Petroleum Exporting Countries - OPEC

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DEFINITION of 'Organization Of Petroleum Exporting Countries - OPEC'

An organization consisting of the world's major oil-exporting nations. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in 1960 to coordinate the petroleum policies of its members, and to provide member states with technical and economic aid. OPEC is a cartel that aims to manage the supply of oil in an effort to set the price of oil on the world market, in order to avoid fluctuations that might affect the economies of both producing and purchasing countries.

BREAKING DOWN 'Organization Of Petroleum Exporting Countries - OPEC'

OPEC membership is open to any country that is a substantial exporter of oil and that shares the ideals of the organization. As of 2011, OPEC had 12 member countries, including founder members Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Venezuela.

OPEC's influence on the market has been widely critcized. Because its member countries hold the vast majority of crude oil reserves (about 80%) and nearly half of natural gas reserves in the world, the organization has considerable power in these markets.

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