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    They are a cartel that tries to limit production to artificially inflate prices.
    During the Yom Kippur War (1973), they used oil as a weapon by imposing a boycott on the US and other allies of Israel.
    They triggered massive inflation during the 70s.
    Since the Soviet Union was a net oil exporter, the price increases OPEC created helped prop up Communism.
    The energy crisis of 1973 prompted drilling in Alaska, Mexico and the North Sea, reducing OPEC's ability to control production.
    Price increases turned out to be much more effective than appeals to conscience in promoting energy conservation.
    According to their web page, OPEC's mission is to 'stabilize the oil market and to help oil producers achieve a reasonable rate of return on their investment.' (Of course, as a consumer you may have a different notion of 'reasonable rate of return' than OPEC members do.)

Credit: C. Fishel

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