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There are few events more interesting, intriguing and odd than the twice-a-year spectacle known as an OPEC meeting. But what exactly happens over those two days? Here's how CNBC's 48 hours at OPEC went down this year.
Twice per year OPEC meetings usually take place at the group's building in downtown Vienna, Austria. More than 200 journalists and broadcasters from around the world attend.
The whole thing really starts the day before, as reporters (the oil papparazzi) wait outside of the delegates' hotel hoping to catch them coming in or out. The reporters from each of the 14 OPEC member countries usually have the best intel on where their delegation is staying. This was two years ago, waiting on Iran.
The morning the meeting begins, TV crews from CNBC and others line up outside the building, waiting for the ministers to arrive. You know they're coming because you can hear the sirens of the police escorts. Austrian police with machine guns make sure we don't jump the barriers or get too close. You'll notice waiting is a theme of OPEC.
Once they open the presser, we charge up the stairs like crazed reporters hungry for access, which is exactly what we are. The first in the room is more likely to get the quote or the on-camera look. Given recent events, Iran's delegate Bijan Zanganeh was in high demand this year and you can see the crush of reporters around him. Later he turned specifically to our camera and answered a number of questions.
Venezuela's Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo gives the opening speech of the 176th meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) conference and the 6th meeting of the OPEC and non-OPEC countries on July 1, 2019 in Vienna, Austria.
Most of our time is spent in the basement conference room, waiting, while the delegates go into their closed door meetings upstairs. This is when everyone starts pinging their contacts, working to get details on what the group may decide.
Because the news can break or the meeting could end at any time, it's risky to leave the building for any amount of time. Thankfully there is a hot dog stand across the street, which was our lunch — and often dinner — place of choice.
Did we say there was sausage? And our TV equipment boxes make for great tables.
Once the delegates have unanimously agreed to their production agreement, the media is alerted and everyone rushes back into the basement conference room (though most never left in the first place). There the head of OPEC PR, Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo, and Saudi energy minister Khalid Al-Falih discuss their decision, take questions, and allow more media availability. Here Mr. al-Falih takes questions. This meeting lasted until after 9 p.m.
OPEC hosted a big dinner for all the delegates, their entourages and select guests. It began after 10 p.m. and everyone was tired, but not too tired to honor our friend and CNBC contributor Helima Croft. Here all the delegates gathered on stage and invited Helima up to honor her longstanding work covering the group.
The day after the OPEC ministerial meeting is now what they call "OPEC Plus," where 10 other oil producing nations join the OPEC members to have a more macro discussion. But let's be clear, "OPEC Plus" is really all about one country - Russia. It's 11 million barrel per day output adds a lot of heft to OPEC's 30 million barrel production. The room is packed with print and broadcast journalists galore, again.
A few hours later, another press conference. This time to discuss the "OPEC Plus" conclusions and the increased close ties between the group and Russia. The Russian energy minister, Alexander Novak, is on the left.
Once the official meetings are over, there's no need for us to be trapped in the OPEC basement any longer. So we retire to our television perch outside HQ and bring you reports on CNBC well into the night. Thankfully Gerry and Whitney get to sit down for the first time in about 12 hours after putting in a long day. See you at the December meeting.