OPEC'S EVOLVING ROLE: OPEC grappling with perils of bipolar pricing

In December 1997, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decided to raise production quotas in spite of the Asian financial crisis, OPEC's critics once again asserted that the cartel was dying, if not dead. How could the organization get it so wrong, raising production when Asian growth was collapsing? As it turns out, OPEC's blunder may have been the best thing for the organization. The ensuing price decline encouraged greater cooperation facilitated by frequent and constructive communication among Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and OPEC outsider Mexico. Since then, OPEC has knit together no less than seven production accords, swinging an average volume of 1 million b/d...

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