Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)/Map of OPEC

The OPEC logo appears on a blue background next to silouhettes of oil rigs.

OPEC is an acronym that stands for Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. It is an organization whose mission is to coordinate and manage the production and pricing of petroleum products to ensure stable and predictable markets for both member and non-member nations.

In other words, OPEC is a group of countries with large oil reserves that work together to manage the production and pricing of petroleum products.

This international organization has a large influence on world affairs through its ability to affect global oil prices, making it a major player in the global energy landscape. As of January 2024, OPEC comprises 12 member countries:

  1. Iran
  2. Iraq
  3. Kuwait
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. Venezuela
  6. Libya
  7. United Arab Emirates
  8. Algeria
  9. Nigeria
  10. Equatorial Guinea
  11. Congo
  12. Gabon

In this post, we’ll examine a map of OPEC members around the globe before exploring the history of the organization and finally learning more about each member country individually.

Opec member countries highlighted on world map vector perfect for
OPEC Members in 2024

The above map of OPEC members represents both the Founder Members and current Full Members, as designated by the OPEC Statute. Angola left the organization in early 2024.

History of OPEC

A black and white photo shows men in Middle Eastern and Western attire at a conference, with flags and observers present.
Meeting of OPEC members

OPEC Foundation

OPEC was founded on September 14, 1960, in Baghdad, Iraq. The creation of the organization was driven by several factors, primarily the desire of oil-producing nations to assert control over their oil resources and stabilize oil prices in the global market.

The five Founder Members included Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.

Two of the key motivations for the founding of OPEC were sovereignty over resources and bargaining power.

Sovereignty over resources: Many oil-producing nations in the Middle East, South America, and Africa were experiencing the exploitation of their oil reserves by foreign companies, often under unfavorable terms. These nations sought to regain control over their valuable natural resources.

Bargaining power: By forming a unified front, oil-producing countries believed they could negotiate better deals with multinational oil companies and gain more favorable terms in production agreements.

The OPEC Founder Members came together to sign the OPEC Treaty in Baghdad, which marked the establishment of OPEC as an intergovernmental organization.

The founding of OPEC represented a pivotal moment in the history of the oil industry, as it marked the beginning of oil-producing nations’ efforts to assert their sovereignty over their resources and gain more control over global oil markets.

After the Foundation of OPEC

After the initial establishment of OPEC by the Founder Members, the following countries joined the organization:  

  • Qatar (1961)
  • Indonesia (1962)
  • Libya (1962)
  • United Arab Emirates (1967)
  • Algeria (1969)
  • Nigeria (1971)
  • Ecuador (1973)
  • Gabon (1975)
  • Angola (2007)
  • Equatorial Guinea (2017)
  • Congo (2018)

The early years of OPEC were marked by negotiations with major oil companies and the gradual assertion of control over oil production and pricing.

The headquarters of OPEC, originally in Geneva, moved to Vienna, the capital of Austria in 1965. The representatives of the member countries decide the policies of the Organization at least twice a year in a meeting. There is an administrative and research secretariat in Vienna

The organization’s influence grew significantly over time, particularly during the oil crisis of the 1970s when it imposed an oil embargo on several countries, leading to a substantial increase in oil prices and a realignment of global energy politics.

The most recent country to leave OPEC is Angola, which left the organization at the start of 2024. Other former OPEC members include Ecuador, Indonesia, and Qatar.

OPEC Member Countries

Sony dsc
OPEC delegates in Quito, Ecuador at a 2010 conference

In this section, we’ll learn more about of each of the current members of OPEC and their relation to the organization, starting with the Founder Members.


Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 208,600

As one of OPEC’s Founder Members, Iran has been part of the organization since its inception in 1960. The country’s large oil reserves and strategic location in the Middle East make it a key player in OPEC’s decision-making process.

Iran’s relationship with OPEC has been centered around its desire to protect its oil reserves and to assert control over its oil industry, which had previously been dominated by foreign interests.


Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 145,019

Another Founder Member, Iraq, has been an integral part of OPEC since its inception in 1960. The country’s involvement is rooted in its determination to protect its oil interests, both in terms of production levels and pricing negotiations.

Iraq’s oil industry has faced various obstacles, including wars, sanctions, and internal conflicts, and its membership has been vital for OPEC’s efforts to maintain stability in the global oil market. Despite prolonged periods of instability Iraq has remained one of the richest Arab countries in the world.


Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 101,500

Kuwait, one of OPEC’s Founder Members, plays a crucial role within the organization. The nation’s involvement is driven by the need to safeguard its substantial oil reserves and assert control over its oil industry.

Located on the Persian Gulf, Kuwait shares land borders with two other OPEC members: Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Throughout its history with OPEC, Kuwait has actively participated in collective decisions concerning oil production levels and pricing strategies. Its participation has ensured stability in the global oil market, aligning with its economic interests.

Saudi Arabia

Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 267,192

As an OPEC Founder Member, Saudi Arabia holds a unique and central position within the organization. What sets Saudi Arabia apart is its unparalleled oil production capacity and vast reserves. While Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producer in OPEC, and often in the world, the United States was the top producer in 2023.

Saudi Arabia’s involvement in OPEC goes beyond safeguarding its oil reserves; it’s also known for its role as the world’s swing producer. The term “swing producer” refers to the country’s capacity to adjust its oil production to stabilize prices during times of crisis or excess supply.


Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 303,221

Venezuela has a distinctive relationship with OPEC. Oil wealth plays a crucial role in the economy of Venezuela, and the country’s involvement since 1960 has been motivated by its desire to safeguard and maximize this oil wealth.

What sets Venezuela apart is its historical advocacy for fairer terms and higher prices for oil-producing nations. However, in recent years, Venezuela’s economic and political challenges, including sanctions and internal struggles with corruption, have posed significant obstacles to its active participation within OPEC.


Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 12,200

Algeria, a member of OPEC since 1969, plays a significant role in the organization, particularly in its efforts to stabilize the global oil market. As one of the largest countries in the world, it is the largest OPEC member in size. It’s also one of the richest countries in Africa.

Algeria’s commitment to supporting the stability of the global oil market and its alignment with OPEC’s broader objectives is evident in its decision to voluntarily reduce oil production until the end of 2024.


Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 1,811

The Republic of Congo, the most recent country to become a full member of OPEC in 2018, has maintained its strong commitment to the strategic policies defined by OPEC. This commitment is critical, especially following the decision of some other countries, like Angola, to leave the organization.

Congo’s adherence to the guidelines and targets set by OPEC is evident in its dedication to a production target of 277,000 barrels per day (bpd) for 2024. The country’s role in OPEC is not only pivotal for its own oil sector but also for the stability and collaboration within the organization.

Equatorial Guinea

Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 1,100

Equatorial Guinea is located on the west coast of Africa and has been a member of OPEC since 2017. The country holds a significant and strategic position in the organization, aligning closely with OPEC in terms of values and objectives.

The country’s commitment to OPEC is rooted in its goal to improve the standard of living of its people, underlining a sense of responsibility and solidarity. This is achieved through policies that ensure market certainty and stability, crucial for effective economic planning and disciplined production projects.


Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 2,000

Gabon, a member of OPEC, is recognized as a minor but significant player in the organization. Producing approximately 200,000 barrels per day, it is one of the smaller OPEC members.

The country’s oil production is essential for its economy, contributing significantly to its national income. Despite recent political upheavals, including a military coup, the impact on Gabon’s oil production has been minimal.

The situation in Gabon highlights the geopolitical risks in the oil market, particularly in West Africa, but the country’s oil production remains stable for now. Gabon’s role in OPEC underscores the organization’s diverse membership and the various challenges that smaller oil-producing countries face​​​​.


Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 48,363

Libya, a key OPEC member since 1962, is noteworthy for its substantial oil reserves, the largest in Africa. The country’s reliance on oil significantly impacts its economy, with the sector being a major source of government and export revenue.

However, political instability has led to fluctuations in oil production, impacting both national economic stability and global oil markets. Libya’s oil sector, under the guidance of the National Oil Corporation, focuses on enhancing recovery techniques and field development to boost production.


Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 36,967

Nigeria, a member of OPEC since 1971, plays a crucial role in the organization. Its membership has enabled Nigeria to influence global oil market stability, essential for its economy heavily reliant on oil revenue.

Despite challenges like oil theft, Nigeria has recently increased its crude output, positively impacting OPEC’s total production. This increase underscores Nigeria’s commitment to stabilizing global oil markets.

Nigeria’s involvement in OPEC has fostered the development of its oil industry and contributed to the global energy sector. Nigerian nationals have also held significant positions within OPEC, including several OPEC Presidents and Secretary-Generals​​​​.

United Arab Emirates

Proven crude oil reserves (million barrels): 113,000

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a member of OPEC since 1967, significantly influences the organization.

The UAE’s strategy differs from some OPEC members, as it maintains partnerships with international energy companies rather than fully nationalizing its oil industry. This approach enables the UAE to control its vast oil resources while benefiting from external expertise.

Despite potential tensions, the UAE remains a vital contributor to OPEC’s mission of stabilizing global oil markets. Additionally, the UAE’s leadership in sustainable energy development and hosting COP28 highlights its broader commitment to addressing global energy and climate challenges​​​​​​.

Image Sources and Copyright Information