The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is one of the most recognizable acronyms among international organizations. It is mainly associated with the 'oil shock' of 1973 when prices of petroleum quadrupled and industrialized countries and consumers were forced to face the limits of their development model.
This is the first history of OPEC and of its members written by a professional historian. It carries the reader from the formation of the first petrostate in the world, Venezuela in the late 1920s, to the global ascent of petrostates and OPEC during the 1970s, to their crisis in the late-1980s and early- 1990s.
Formed in 1960, OPEC was the first international organization of the Global South. It was perceived as acting as the economic 'spearhead' of the Global South and acquired a role that went far beyond the realm of oil politics. Petrostates such as Venezuela, Nigeria, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran were (and continue to be) key regional actors, and their enduring cooperation, defying wide political and cultural differences and even wars, speaks to the centrality of natural resources in the history of the twentieth century, and to the underlying conflict between producers and consumers of these natural resources.
Giuliano Garavini is an Italian historian, currently Senior Research Fellow in the Humanities at NYU Abu Dhabi. His main research interests include European integration, decolonization, and global struggles over natural resources. He has taught classes at various universities and institutions, including the Graduate Institute in Geneva, the European University Institute in Florence, and NYU Abu Dhabi. He has published on the interconnection between European integration and decolonization (After Empires, 2012), and on the global history of petroleum and of energy, in particular on the origins and significance of the 1973 'oil shock' (Oil Shock: The 1973 Crisis and its Economic Legacy, 2016) and on the 'counter-shock' in 1986 (Counter-Shock: The Oil Counter-Revolution of the 1980s, 2018).
4: The Energy Crisis
5: The Oil Revolution
6: Uneasy Dialogue
7: The Failed Cartel
Epilogue: The Crisis of the Petrostate