The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in Baghdad, Iraq, with the signing of an agreement in September 1960 by five countries namely Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. They were to become the Founder Members of the Organization.
These countries were later joined by Qatar (1961), Indonesia (1962), Libya (1962), the United Arab Emirates (1967), Algeria (1969), Nigeria (1971), Ecuador (1973), Gabon (1975) and Angola (2007).
From December 1992 until October 2007, Ecuador suspended its membership. Indonesia suspended its membership in January 2009, but this was reactivated in January 2016. Gabon terminated its membership in January 1995. However, it rejoined the Organization in July 2016.
This means that, currently, the Organization has a total of 14 Member Countries.
The OPEC Statute distinguishes between the Founder Members and Full Members - those countries whose applications for membership have been accepted by the Conference.
The Statute stipulates that “any country with a substantial net export of crude petroleum, which has fundamentally similar interests to those of Member Countries, may become a Full Member of the Organization, if accepted by a majority of three-fourths of Full Members, including the concurring votes of all Founder Members.”
The Statute further provides for Associate Members which are those countries that do not qualify for full membership, but are nevertheless admitted under such special conditions as may be prescribed by the Conference.