OPEC, cartel extraordinaire

10.25.06 | Comment?

If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny that many countries with interests counter to the US are profiting immensely from our energy demands. Let’s face it, our appetite for energy in the US is insatiable. As a result, we can as a country be held hostage by those who have the resources necessary to supply our habit and those same people may engage in outright hostile activities toward the US with very little worry of reprisal (with the present situation in Iraq.)

What is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) anyway? According to the OPEC website it is:

OPEC is a permanent, intergovernmental organization consisting of 11 developing nations, whose economies rely on oil export revenues. One of OPEC’s primary missions is to achieve stable oil prices, which are fair and reasonable to consumers and producers.

If we view the dictionary.com definition of cartel, it states: an international syndicate, combine, or trust formed especially to regulate prices and output in some field of business. Let’s be plain about this, OPEC was founded to be a cartel, has the mission of a cartel, and is a cartel beholden to no one, but it’s 11 member states. Curiously, if the consumers of it’s product were smart enough and had sufficient will to respond to the cartel in an organized and consistent way, they could bring it down. (Other than demanding that the cartel produce more and not charge too much for that right…..which is what these consumers do now.) Why does this cartel have so much power? Because it controls 78% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves (897 billion barrels.)

Just who are the 11 OPEC member states?

  • Algeria – Former French colony, now an unstable Arab state, 99% Sunni Muslim
  • Indonesia – Former Dutch colony and Japanese possession, now a populous, predominantly Muslim (88%) state
  • Iran – Formerly known as Persia, now a militant Islamic state suspected of supporting terrorism globally. Recently has asserted its right to join the nuclear nation club.
  • Iraq – We’ve all heard enough about Iraq over the past 16 years.
  • Kuwait – Former British colony, compartitively friendly post-liberation from Iraq, predominantly Muslim.
  • Libya – Former Ottoman and Italian colony, recently reformed renouncing terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, predominantly Muslim.
  • Nigeria – Former British colony, now an unstable African state, about 50% Muslim.
  • Qatar – Former British protectorate, now a stable Arab state, predominantly Muslim.
  • Saudi Arabia – A stable, Islamic monarchy. 100% Muslim.
  • United Arab Emirates – Former British protectorate, progressive state by middle-eastern standards, predominantly Muslim.
  • Venuzeula – Former Spanish colony and part of Gran Colombia, now stable socialist state, predominantly Catholic.

What do all these member states have in common? In general, they don’t care much for the US or our policies, but they’re happy to take our money to invest in our ultimate destruction. It’s rare to find such true irony.

By now you might be thinking “well this is depressing.” It is, but doesn’t have to be. With the technologies we have TODAY, we can make the decision to become independent of cartels simply by switching our focus and investment to renewable energy technology, both in electricity generation and in transportation. It can’t happen overnight, but it can happen within 20 years. BTW, what do you think you’ll be paying for a gallon of gasoline in 2026? I’ll bet you’re not saying $2.50…. A funny thing happens to unified producers when their largest, most dependent customer ceases to buy their product – they unravel from the inside out.

We have the ability to disentangle ourselves from this mess, shame on us if we don’t act upon it. The time to start is now.

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