A „benchmark crude oil” is a standardized petroleum product that serves as a favourable reference price for buyers and sellers of crude oil, including standard contracts on major futures markets since 1983. Reference prices are used because oil prices differ (usually by a few dollars per barrel) based on quality, quality, date and place of delivery, and other regulatory requirements.   During the 2014-2015 period, OPEC members consistently exceeded their production ceiling, and China experienced a slowdown in economic growth. At the same time, U.S. oil production nearly doubled from 2008, approaching the world`s major volumes of „back-up producers” from Saudi Arabia and Russia, due to the significant long-term improvement and proliferation of shale „fracking” technology in response to years of record oil prices. These developments, in turn, led to a decline in demand for U.S. oil imports (which was nearing energy independence), record levels of global oil supply, and a collapse in oil prices that continued into early 2016.    President Joe Biden and other Democrats are considering a series of measures to mitigate the impact of OPEC`s decision to cut oil supplies — though none of their options look appealing. A number of global events have helped OPEC keep oil prices under control. The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the resulting economic turmoil interrupted Russian production for several years. The Asian financial crisis, which led to several currency devaluations, had the opposite effect by reducing demand for oil. In both cases, OPEC has maintained constant oil production. The threat of NOPEC and similar legislation could sometimes serve as a fastball to fend off OPEC, analysts said.
But passing it and triggering lawsuits against OPEC members would create a new level of antagonism between the U.S. and the cartel, which could scare oil markets. It also wouldn`t necessarily bring prices down at the pump anytime soon, analysts said. Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. `Member States`. Retrieved 16 April 2020. „Why did the Soviet Union collapse?” Retrieved 16 April 2020. For these reasons, a strategic fuel reserve would be „a Rube Goldberg machine,” said Rory Johnston, founder of analytics firm Commodity Context. „You are very unlikely to get the right products” for long-term storage. OPEC`s influence on the market has been widely criticized. Since its member countries own the vast majority of crude oil reserves (79.4%, according to OPEC`s website), the organization has considerable power in these markets. As a cartel, OPEC members have a strong incentive to keep oil prices as high as possible while maintaining their share of the global market.
Despite the global oversupply, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi blocked calls from poorer OPEC members for production cuts to support prices in Vienna on November 27, 2014. Naimi argued that it should be left to the oil market to balance competitively at lower price levels and strategically restore OPEC`s long-term market share by ending the profitability of expensive shale oil production in the United States.  As he explained in an interview: Biden could be better served by playing things coldly when it comes to OPEC and emphasizing the positive when it comes to moving the country away from oil, some analysts said. International commodity agreements on commodities such as coffee, sugar, tin and, more recently, oil (OPEC: Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) are examples of international cartels that have publicly resulted in agreements between different national governments. The OPEC conference is the supreme authority of the organization and consists of delegations usually led by the oil ministers of the member countries. The Director-General of the organization is the Secretary-General of OPEC. The Conference usually meets at its headquarters in Vienna, at least twice a year and, if necessary, in additional extraordinary meetings. It generally operates on the principles of unanimity and the principle of „one member, one vote”, with each country paying an equal membership fee in the annual budget.  However, given that Saudi Arabia is by far the largest and most profitable oil exporter in the world and has sufficient capacity to act as a traditional backup producer to balance the global market, it serves as the „de facto leader” of OPEC.  The Secretariat is primarily engaged in analytical research and public relations. It is not involved in oil production.
At the height of the US occupation of Iraq from 2003 to 2008, widespread uprisings and acts of sabotage occurred, coinciding with a rapid increase in oil demand from China and resource-hungry investors, recurrent violence against the Nigerian oil industry, and a decline in spare capacity as a buffer against potential shortages. This combination of forces has led to a sharp rise in oil prices to levels well above the levels previously targeted by OPEC.    Price volatility peaked in 2008 when WTI crude peaked at $147 per barrel in July, then fell back to $32 per barrel in December, during the worst global recession since World War II.  OPEC`s annual oil export revenues also reached a new record in 2008, estimated at about $1 trillion, and reached similar annual rates in 2011-2014 (alongside significant petrodollar recycling activities) before collapsing again.  At the time of the Libyan civil war and the Arab Spring of 2011, OPEC began issuing explicit statements to counter „excessive speculation” in oil futures markets, accusing financial speculators of increasing volatility beyond market fundamentals.  The oil was first extracted and commercially exploited in the United States of America. As a result, the pricing power for fossil fuels rested with the United States, which was the world`s largest oil producer at the time. In general, oil prices were volatile and high in the early years due to the lack of economies of scale in extraction and refining that characterize current production and drilling processes. „This is really the first time a president has approved it with a Congress that is likely to support him as well,” Kevin Book said. Managing Director of ClearView Energy Partners, a research firm. « What was unthinkable is no longer unthinkable.
» As an area where OPEC members have been able to work together productively over the decades, the organization has significantly improved the quality and quantity of information available on the international oil market. This is particularly useful for an extractive industry that requires months and years of careful planning to function properly. The OPEC Secretariat is always looking for talented and qualified individuals to join its multinational team to ensure the highest standards of competence and efficiency to meet the standards required by its member countries. It currently employs 134 people from 41 countries around the world with scientific, technical, managerial and professional training. In addition to competitive job offers, it offers a rich multicultural work environment where English is the official working language. The Statute also provides for associate members, i.e. countries which do not qualify for full membership but which are nevertheless admitted under the special conditions laid down by the Conference. Until the mid-20th century, the United States of America was the largest oil producer and controlled oil prices.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) then took power in the years that followed, dominating oil markets and prices for most of the second half of the 20th century. The influence of individual OPEC members on the oil organization and market generally depends on their level of reserves and production. Saudi Arabia, which controls about a third of OPEC`s total oil reserves, plays a leading role in the organization. Other important members are Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, whose combined reserves are significantly higher than those of Saudi Arabia. Kuwait, which has a very small population, has shown a willingness to reduce production relative to the size of its reserves, while Iran and Iraq, both with large and growing populations, have generally produced at high levels relative to reserves. Revolutions and wars have affected the ability of some OPEC members to maintain high levels of production. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was established in Baghdad, Iraq, with the signing of an agreement in September 1960 by five countries, namely the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.