The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries – the oil market institution that has exerted an unyielding power over the price of crude for nearly 60 years – is now in deep crisis. The latest OPEC meeting in Vienna offered new insights into the cartel’s raging civil war that is tearing it apart and threatens to ultimately make the cartel irrelevant.
In a two-year period since the group of 15 major oil producers formed an alliance with Russia, OPEC’s smaller members have been marginalized, their voices have been diminished and Saudi Arabia seems to prioritize its partnership with Moscow above all else. An unlikely partnership between Saudi Arabia and Russia is causing dissension within OPEC, with one of the oldest members announcing it would withdraw from the organization in January just days prior to the talks. With Russia tightening its grip over OPEC’s decisions and the United States officially reaching net oil exporting status in late November for the first time in decades, even if only briefly, the new world oil order is now dependent on three energy superpowers: Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States. Continue reading