Global Oil Dynamics: OPEC, OPEC+, and India's Stand for Equitable Pricing

Mains Marks Booster     27th July 2023        
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The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

  • Founded at the Baghdad Conference in Iraq in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, OPEC is a permanent, intergovernmental organization. 
  • OPEC plays a pivotal role in the global oil industry, accounting for about 44% of worldwide oil production and 81.5% of the world's "proven" oil reserves
  • 13 member countries with Qatar and Ecuador withdrawing in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The OPEC+ Alliance

  • Includes OPEC and non-OPEC countries, such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan, and Sudan.
  • These countries, together with OPEC, work to control the global oil supply, with Russia being particularly influential as the third-largest oil supplier globally.
  • Formed in 2017 to decrease production and boost prices in response to low oil prices.

The Functions and Impacts of OPEC+

OPEC+ oversees several key functions that significantly impact the global oil market:

  • Oil Production Regulation
  • Price Control:.
  • Market Monitoring: .
  • Coordination: Member countries collaborate on decisions regarding oil production, pricing policies, and other factors influencing the global oil market.
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Recent Developments and Market Dynamics

  • The global oil market faced fluctuations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • OPEC+ has been instrumental in managing these changes, adjusting production and prices to maintain stability.

Impact on India and Possible Alternatives

  • Impact on India: As a significant oil importer, OPEC+ decisions greatly impact India's economy. Production cuts by OPEC+ can increase the import bill and potentially trigger inflation.

Possible Alternatives for India

  • Increasing crude imports from other countries, like Russia.
  • Investing more in alternative energy sources.
  • Integrating petroleum products into the goods and services tax structure.
  • Promoting energy-efficient use of vehicles.
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Global Oil Politics and India's Role 

Global Oil Politics

  • The global oil market is characterized by a complex interplay of geopolitics and economic interests. 
  • Agreements such as the 2020 production cut agreement between OPEC and Russia significantly affect the global oil market.

India's Role

  • India is a major consumer of OPEC oil. Notably, any production cut by OPEC and its allies affects India's energy security efforts. 
  • However, countries like Saudi Arabia have agreed to supply crude oil at lower rates to refiners in India, offering some respite. 
  • India has consistently advocated for responsible pricing in global oil markets.
  • Proposes ending the "Asian Premium," a surcharge that OPEC countries impose on Asian countries. India's position reflects the shifting dynamics of the global oil market, especially the increased demand for crude oil in Asia.

The Asian Premium and Its Implications

Understanding the Asian Premium

  • The "Asian Premium" is an extra charge imposed on Asian countries for oil sales.
  • Typically, around $1-$2 per barrel higher than prices for Europe and the U.S.

Implications of the Asian Premium

  • India, which sources 85% of its crude oil supplies from OPEC member countries, has been vocal about opposing this premium.
  • India has sought cooperation with China and other Asian countries to challenge the Asian Premium, reflecting the shifting dynamics of the global oil market.

The Shale Revolution and Shift in Oil Flow

Shift in Crude Flow

  • Traditionally, the flow of crude was from West Asia to North America.
  • With the shale revolution, the flow has shifted to Asia.

Impact of the Shale Revolution

  • The shale revolution refers to the significant increase in the production ofshale oil and gas in the U.S.
  • The boom led to the U.S. becoming one of the world's largest oil producers.
  • It has reduced U.S. dependence on West Asian oil, shifting the market focus towards Asia.

The Role of Benchmarks in Global Oil Pricing

Major Benchmarks in the Global Market
  • There are three significant benchmarks in the global oil market:
    1. Brent: Representing the European market
    2. West Texas Intermediate (WTI): Representing the U.S. market
    3. Dubai/Oman: Representing the Middle East and Asian market
Impact of Benchmarks on Oil Pricing
  • Benchmarks play a crucial role in determining oil prices.
  • However, prices based on the Dubai/Oman benchmark lack the flexibility of the Brent and WTI, due to the absence of derivative trading, leading to higher prices for Asia (Asian Premium).


  • OPEC and OPEC+ play a significant role in global oil production and pricing, significantly impacting economies like India. 
  • As the world grapples with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of these organizations remains crucial in maintaining the stability of the global oil market. 
  • The issue of the Asian Premium and the shifting dynamics of the global oil market present new challenges and opportunities for countries like India. 
  • The drive for responsible pricing and the shift towards more sustainable energy sources could shape the future .
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