OPEC To Fracture Into The Haves And Have Nots?

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The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a 13-member cartel that controls some 40 per cent of the world’s daily oil production capacity. Despite this cabal of hydrocarbon-rich nations celebrating its 55th anniversary this year, all is not well at home base in Vienna, Austria.

OPEC membership straddles Africa, Asia and South America, encompassing developed and developing nations. Although allied in the pursuit of profit, the group is separated geopolitically, ideologically and down sectarian lines.

Two of its members feature in the top 20 of the Fragile States Index, three in the worst 20 nations on the Corruption Perceptions Index and according to the 2015 Freedom In The World Report, eight of them are classified as "not free". Iraq, Iran and Libya have also been designated as members of the various "axes of evil".

Not a single OPEC member could balance its fiscal budget for 2015 on the average oil price for that calendar year. However, some have been in a far worse position than others: eight of the 13 nations needed an oil price above $100 per barrel to balance the books, and four - Iran, Libya, Nigeria and Venezuela - are in truly dire straits; an embattled Libya needs an oil price at more than four times higher than current levels to make ends meet.

The recent controversy over the execution of the Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr has led to the severance of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, could 2016 be the year that the have-mores cut loose the stragglers?



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