OPEC celebrates 60th anniversary amid ongoing coronavirus challenges in oil markets

OPEC celebrates 60th anniversary amid ongoing coronavirus challenges in oil markets

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Monday celebrated its 60th anniversary while oil prices continue to remain low amid an unprecedented downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Since its founding in 1960, the group has sought to ensure a sustainable, stable oil market for the benefit of its members and the global economy. OPEC has persisted through various oil market cycles, while seeking to maintain a stable price for the world’s most valuable commodity – oil.

More recently, the group has been grappling with the unprecedented precipitous fall in prices caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Oil demand fell significantly earlier this year as economies shut down to a certain degree while health authorities implemented lockdown procedures to curb the spread of the virus.

On Monday, it launched a new history page on its website and announced events in Baghdad to commemorate 60 years since its founding following a meeting, known as the Baghdad Conference, of members from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iraq, Kuwait and Iran.

“I often think back to that day in 1960, the mood in Baghdad, how those visionaries envisaged the future of OPEC and the oil industry,” Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC’s secretary general said in a statement for the anniversary.

“What is clear is that what was set in motion has stood the test of time; OPEC still has the same core objectives, of order and stability in global oil markets, but its role has also broadened considerably, in terms of deeper cooperation with other producers, dialogue with a host of industry stakeholders, and an embrace of human concerns such as sustainable development, the environment and energy poverty eradication,” he added.

Since 1960, the group has since grown to 13 members around the world, who collectively hold around 80 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.

Along with an expanded OPEC membership, the group has engaged with other major oil producers. These other producers, which include gas giant Russia, along with OPEC have since been referred to as the OPEC+ group and supply the world with around half of its supply of oil.

This year the OPEC+ alliance has taken significant steps to fight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and support prices, announcing an enormous, unprecedented oil output cut agreement that saw nearly 10 million barrels per day or oil supply removed from global markets.

“We remain focused on a balanced and stable oil market, in the interests of both producers and consumers, as most recently exhibited through the Declaration of Cooperation and the historic production adjustments of 2020,” the group said in a statement on its anniversary.

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