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14 Sep 2021

OPEC turns 61

OPEC takes pride in honouring and celebrating its rich and unique history and heritage, particularly on the Anniversary of its founding on 14 September 1960. The year 2021 marks the 61st Anniversary of that auspicious day and represents an opportunity to reflect on the Organization’s past and look to the future.

Between 10 and 14 of September 1960, representatives from five oil producing countries descended on Al-Shaab Hall in the Bab Al-Muaatham district in Baghdad: Fuad Rouhani of Iran; Dr. Tala’at al-Shaibani of Iraq; Ahmed Sayed Omar of Kuwait; Abdullah Al-Tariki of Saudi Arabia; and Dr. Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo of Venezuela. As a result of the actions of these five founding fathers, OPEC came into existence. 

Looking back, it may appear that the Organization’s formation was inevitable. However, each of the Organization’s Founder Members arrived in Baghdad with different objectives, expectations and priorities. Yet, they recognized that common interests outweighed any differences they may have had; that working together will always yield greater results than going it alone and unity is a source of strength.

This spirit has infused every chapter of OPEC’s history. The founding of the Organization is a consequence of cooperation, dialogue and compromise; and this has been clearly apparent in our consensus approach and every success OPEC has enjoyed in the subsequent 61 years.

The spirit of Baghdad has most recently manifested in the collective efforts of OPEC’s Member Countries and 10 non-OPEC oil producing countries to respond to the severe oil demand contraction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Inspired by the founding vision that undergirds OPEC, the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ process has been pivotal in the recovery in global oil markets over the past 18 months.

In reflecting on the Organization’s Anniversary, OPEC Secretary General, HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo said: “The world has changed in unimaginable ways since 1960. The challenges our Member Countries faced in 1960 are very different to those of today. However, throughout all the seismic events of the last sixty-one years, OPEC’s commitment to international cooperation, dialogue and taking responsible action in the interests of oil producers, consumers and the global economy has been unwavering. This ‘OPEC Day’, we take time to pause and give thanks for the tireless dedication of generations of Heads of State and Government, Ministers, Governors and other high-level experts from outside the Secretariat and, from within the Secretariat, Secretaries General, Management and Staff of every relevant discipline, all of whom have played a critical role in the Organization’s successes.”

Sixty one years on, OPEC remains focused on a balanced and stable oil market, promoting dialogue among all stakeholders in the energy industry, particularly through the ‘Declaration’ and ‘Charter of Cooperation’, and contributing to the search for options and solutions to some of the major challenges facing humankind, such as climate, sustainable development and energy poverty alleviation.