Does OPEC really control oil prices?

Overal view of a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2004. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Ronald Zak
Overal view of a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2004. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

"Big Oil controls the price from the well to the pump. It’s been that way since the first Arab embargo. A product that affects the economy as much as oil and gas should be regulated.' -- Paul, North Carolina

"OPEC has absolutely no say on oil prices. The non-OPEC producing countries produce more oil, therefore making them a better proxy to represent the supply-demand situation." -- Evan F., Canada

"No. Supply and demand dictate prices. If we stopped the victim mentality and focused on plausible alternatives OPEC would be relegated a historical reference. The following is a short list of presently available assets not used to their potential. Nuclear power for commercial electrical demand. Solar Power for small business and residential use. Hydrogen generation via these alternative energy sources for clean automobiles." -- Vince F., California

"I don't think so. If they did why would the price of gas go up the most around the holidays and now that spring break is here the price is up again. They can't say there is an oil shortage just around the holidays and travel times in the U.S." -- Richard S. MS

"They do control a portion of the price along with demand from the big three countries America, China, Indian." -- Charles M.

"Yes. Look at 1973. The world has done nothing to wean itself off oil." -- Dave A. Missouri

"I think they do! One day the market is rolling smooth with oil prices. In that moment in history everyone becomes very scared about pollution and oil reserves. Now the outcome: OPEC goes to the think tank and the think tank gives them bad news that everyone is going to rapidly get off oil in the near future. Guess what happens next? In a conference room where the G8’s (G6’s Then) vote on increasing the rate on barrels knowing no one can do nothing about it. What about diesel? We have been making diesel for over 40 years. What special process came into play to make the price of diesel to be higher? Many of you Americans do not understand how important it is to keep diesel prices lower than gas prices. Because the price hike you are now paying for transportation diesel in your products. The trucking companies charge the sellers for the diesel and then you the consumer pay for the cost of transporting the product. 2007: So here we are today looking for hybrid cars when we should go for fully electric and hydrogen! I really think as Americans that we to have the power just like OPEC and we can probably push just as hard as they can if we can only get off the ”Oil Barrel Band Wagon." Common America lets push for vehicles that don’t run on barrels of oil! The market runs because we make it run. The puppeteers is OPEC and we allowed them to pull our strings on every 10 to 20 gallons." -- Javier G., Miami Beach, Florida

"Yes, I think we all are smart to know that. Unless you benefit from high oil prices that's when imagination begins." -- Celso G F.

"No. Opec doesn't control gas and oil prices anymore. In Vicksburg the local jobber who denies controling gas prices seems to have some say. Jobbers and Refiners have a roll in the pricing too." -- Chuck H., Vicksburg MS

"OPEC does not control oil prices again,they have been replaced by geopolitical issues (especially in the middle east)." -- Aghogho S., Switzerland

"No they don't because none of the members within OPEC trust each other - prices are controlled by the large speculators (ie. Hedge Funds) and to some extent by the U.S. Government via the Strategic Reserves." -- John U., NY

"Obviously those who control oil prices have learned of their ability to wag the dog. For instance their seems to be relationships between oil prices, the policies of the fed and inflation. The Bush administration whom apparently has a good relationship with OPEC may indeed have insider deals to try and impact the economy. Higher oil prices may help slow down spending in the rest of the economy. In my opinion this may work great when oil companies are making hefty profits, but what happens when a real recession combined with deflationary pressures and oil companies needing to lower prices but are unwilling to lose money. This idea to control the economy seems more plausible when we look at the fluctuation in prices at the pump. Answer to question: Yes when their interests are coordinated with the US Executive branch." -- Randy L.

"No. OPEC can only influence oil markets, but they don't control it. OPEC supplies only 35% of the world's oil. The US imports more oil from Canada than any other country. If anything, we should be worried that Canada is going to take over the US. México is another major non-OPEC supplier to the US. AMERICANS are the real ones who control oil prices. The vast majority of Americans drive gas-hogs they don't need. This causes refineries to be maxed out, and gas prices to skyrocket. Americans can switch to more normal sized vehicles that are more fuel efficient (especially diesels) which will cause gas prices and oil to plummet. At the same time, we can easily grow our reserves, and send less money to terrorists countries. Americans have complete control over oil prices." -- Jeff S., Washington

"The OPEC Oil Cartel, by establishing production quotas for its member (producer) nations, effectively manipulates the "World Market Price" of crude oil by limiting the supply of crude oil to the world market consumer nations. The price of crude oil increases, or is maintained at an artificially high price, by the limitation set by the cartel on crude production. Since the inception of the OPEC cartel, this manipulation of supply has been deemed 'price fixing' by the United States Justice Department and U.S. companies and producers are forbidden, under penalty of criminal prosecution, from joining the cartel or from acting in parallel with its price fixing actions. U.S. oil producers are prohibited, by law, from exporting domestically produced crude oil. But by applying the OPEC cartel influenced "World Market Price" to domestic U.S. oil production, U.S. producers and refiners are reaping the windfall benefits of the OPEC cartel supply/price manipulation. While some U.S. refiners have publicly claimed that their profit on refined gasoline is only 3 cents per gallon, that can only be true if all crude oil refinery throughput, including all domestic U.S. produced oil, is cost priced at the artificial "World Market Price". The real windfall profits of "Big Oil" are hidden in the separate books of their "Production Divisions" or "Trading Divisions" or subsidiaries using "World Market Pricing" as the "transfer price" for domestic US, produced oil delivered into their refineries. The windfall is disclosed only in a final consolidation of Production and Refining Division books and accounts as required for SEC and shareholders reports." -- James H., TX