The Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries (OPEC) turned 50 on April 19, 2011. The anniversary ceremony was held in Tehran concurrent with the 16th International Oil, Gas, Refining, and Petrochemical Exhibition.
OPEC was born in 1961 at Baghdad with the participation of five countries: Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The organization's current members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. These 12 members account for 40% of the world's oil production and has 80% of the proven oil reserves.
The establishment of OPEC was the first step of a process which transferred the controlling power of oil production from multinational oil companies to the producing states. Earlier, the companies earned the bulk of the profit from oil. But, oil was gradually nationalized in many Arab and other nations and the countries themselves began to prosper. This became an important factor after 1973 when the Arabs initiated an oil embargo following the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was after 1973 that the Arab nations amassed a huge wealth from oil.