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Africa takes the lead in OPEC — but only in member numbers

An OPEC branded flag sits on a table ahead of the 169th Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday, June 2, 2016. Saudi Arabia is ready to consider a surprise deal with fellow OPEC members, attempting to mend divisions that had grown so wide many dubbed the group as good as dead. Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Africa has now taken the lead in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in terms of member countries.

Of the 15 member countries, Africa now has seven countries in OPEC as against six from the Middle East.

Congo, who finalised their membership at the organisation’s  Vienna meeting on Friday, is the latest member. Equatorial Guinea and Gabon had joined in 2017 and 2016 respectively.

OPEC, which was founded in 1960, accounts for 40% of the world’s oil production and its members hold 80% of the world’s established oil reserves.

This might not translate to for the continent as the three countries do not pump up to 1 million barrels a day.

Middle Eastern countries are the highest oil producing countries in OPEC.

Other OPEC members are Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Algeria, Libya, Qatar and Ecuador.

In 2017, the Republic of Congo was one of the 11 non-member countries that joined OPEC in the production cut agreements which limited supply from countries to 1.8 million barrels a day.

OPEC adopted the Declaration of Cooperation as a means of solving the supply glut, which saw the price of Brent crude drop as low as $25 per barrel in 2015.

Nigeria and Libya were exempted from the agreement to allow them to stabilise local production.

At it’s Friday meeting in Vienna, OPEC agreed that it would raise output by 700,000 barrels.

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