The secretary-general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has indicated that the influential alliance of producers is actively seeking new members. When asked about expanding the OPEC coalition, Haitham al-Ghais, the secretary-general, confirmed during a press conference on Wednesday, “Yes, we are.” Currently, the group consists of 13 members, primarily located in the Middle East, North and West Africa, and South America. The organization of oil producers faces the challenge of reconciling expectations of a tighter crude oil supply in the second half of the year with ongoing concerns about the macroeconomy and inflation. OPEC members coordinate their oil production levels to influence prices. Ecuador left the group in 2020 due to political circumstances but was invited to rejoin OPEC in May, as stated in a letter from al-Ghais shared by the Ecuadorian Energy Ministry. “The organization considers it a top priority for Ecuador to rejoin the OPEC family,” the letter stated. The response from the Ecuadorian ministry has not been disclosed.
Al-Ghais declined to disclose the names of potential new members. However, he mentioned recent visits to oil-producing countries, including allies that are part of the OPEC+ group, which implements a joint production strategy with OPEC countries. “I visited Malaysia and Brunei,” he mentioned, emphasizing that he did not necessarily invite these countries to join the organization. “I also visited Azerbaijan and Mexico.” OPEC previously clarified in late June that although there has been speculation about Guyana’s potential membership, the South American country had not received an invitation to join, although it is recognized as an emerging player in the international oil market. When asked about the requirements for becoming an OPEC member, al-Ghais explained, “They need to be a substantial net oil exporter and share similar goals with OPEC. These criteria are clearly outlined in our statute. Many of the countries I mentioned earlier actually fit this profile. So, it’s a work in progress.”