According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) earned about $928 billion in 2012, a five percent increase over 2011. It is also the largest level ever reached from 1975 until now, the period for which the EIA has tracked. Iran’s production, which is veiled by sanctions and discount deals, made available by that rogue state, is not published. However, figuring that its revenue at least equals that of neighboring OPEC member Iraq, this would easily eclipse the trillion dollar mark.
Dominating OPEC with generated revenues of $311 billion was Saudi Arabia. With a population bordering on 30 million, its per capita oil revenues in 2012 average $10,315. Right behind the Saudis was the neighboring United Arab Emirates with $100 billion, and a respectable $18,754 per capita return. Nigeria, Africa’s most populated nation, and one of the few oil producers outside of the U.S. generating light sweet crude, jumped into third place among OPEC members, but was lowest in the OPEC marathon on a per capita basis.
But heading up the per capita sweepstakes was Qatar, which totaled $55 billion in 2012, producing a per capita OPEC high of $54,071 Other noteworthy performances were turned in by tiny Kuwait, once known as Iraq’s 14th province. This emanated from the fact that the British carved this artificial “kingdom” out of Iraq when the British and French divided up the Middle East after the first world war, from the remains of the Ottoman Empire. Despite its limited acreage, Kuwait generated a healthy $88 billion in 2012, managing a near $30,000 on a per capita basis. Also, doing well in Africa were former Portugese colony Angola in the Southwest part of the continent, and Algeria above the Sahara in the Arab northern part. Their annual 2012 production was $68 and $62 billion respectively.
Iraq, still recovering from the travails of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship, and the most recent occupation by the U.S., which opened the door to Sunni/Shiite power struggles, plus intervention by Iranian militants, was still able to produce $83 billion, which is shared partially with the autonomous Northern Kurdish province. Even revolution-torn Libya was able to come forth with a $51 billion 2012 revenue swag, although its $7.6 billion per capita nest egg was likely taken in by the variety of rebel groups that dominate that nation today.
With Venezuela and Ecuador as the only South American OPEC members, Caracas came in with a substantial $62 billion annual volume, while Quito came in at the OPEC tail end with a mere $10 billion, and a per capita return of $683.
Although slightly behind last year’s running average, and Iran’s untabulated oil production, the higher perils and increasing demand from developing nations will likely again push OPEC’s earth-shaking global price gouging well into the trillion dollar arena in 2014. Despite America’s entry into the international oil sweepstakes, as the world’s seven billion plus population gallops ahead, global demand, intensified by developing nations’ industrialization, will continue to give OPEC the opportunity to keep prices above the $100 per barrel mark.
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