The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was established in 1960. Its activities include technical and economic guidance for member countries and co-ordination of their petroleum policies.
OPEC members are Algeria, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezula.
OPEC's combined oil revenues were $136 billion in 1977 and $129 billion in 1978. The cartel's combined current account surplus decreased from $30 billion in 1977 to $6 billion last year.
Of the total of 6.232 million oil barrels a day the United States imported in 1978, 5.076 came from OPEC countries accounting for 81.5 percent of total U.S. oil imports. This year, however, the United States imported 6.588 million barrels a day in January and 6.372 million barrels a day in February.But the percentage of OPEC oil declined to 77.7 percent of total imports or 5.243 million barrels a day in January and 4.949 in February.
OPEC Chronology: 1960 - First OPEC conference, Baghdad. OPEC Secretariat formed. Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in attendance.
1962 - Conference, Geneva. Demand oil companies roll back prices to 1960 levels. Created new formula to give producers a larger share of the profits.
1970 - Conference, Caracas. Tax on income of oil companies raised to 55 percent. Decision to establish unified price system.
1972 - Producing countries demand compensation for decline in value of the U.S. dollar.
1973 - October War between Israel and the Arab nations of Egypt and Syria. Oil embargo imposed on the United States by Arab members of OPEC. Major cutbacks in production. Gulf states unilaterally declare 70 percent price increase. By December, posted price increases 130 percent.
1974 - Conference, Vienna. Arab oil producers agree to lift embargo against United States. Later in year, royalty charges increased to 16.6 percent and taxes on oil companies increased to 65.5 percent except in Saudi Arabia.
1975 - Gabon admitted to membership. Ministerial Meeting. Agreement to raise prices by 10 percent for the period until June 1976.
1975 - Conference, Qatar. Proposed two-stage 15 percent rise in basic prices but not all members institute the full 15 percent increase.
1977 - Conference, Sweden. A single level of prices restored throughout the organization.
1978 - Conference, Taif. Production ceilings lowered in response to oil glut. Late in year, continuing turmoil in Iran reduces market supply by approximately 2 million barrels a day. In December, prices are raised 14.5 percent.
1979 - Taking advantage of the crisis in Iran and a slowdown of production, individual members of OPEC raised prices ignoring scheduled price increases. Prices on the open market skyrocket. In March, OPEC announces 9 percent increase in oil prices with approval for each country to impose its own additional surcharges.