The Corruption Behind Oil 

Max Cauchi

Gas prices have been on the rise, but increasing prices are not new. However, the sudden jump in cost is rather surprising. There could be many reasons for the sudden incline in price, but Forbes magazine believes that gas prices have risen because of “OPEC’s decision to cut [oil] production, scheduled to start in November… Gas analysts say the production cut could cause gas prices to spike as much as 30 cents per gallon, on average, this winter.” The Origination of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a powerful organization led by Saudi Arabia and co-chaired by Russia. This group can determine oil prices by adjusting the production of oil barrels per day either increasing the price through limiting the number of barrels or lowering the price through increasing production. They have this amount of power because of their control over 40 percent of all the oil in the world. The dominance of the oil industry changes the lives of every person in the world. Senior Chase Gamble says the amount of power OPEC has “is scary because few people control many people’s lives.”  Some countries’ economies are based on energy production and exportation furthering the dominance OPEC has, truly displaying its power. Using this power, OPEC recently decided to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day during their meeting on Sept. 5.  

There have been many speculations on the reasons behind the decision to increase prices by OPEC. Some people believe that their decision was to harm President Joe Biden who has been trying to improve relations with Saudi Arabia where he recently visited specifically to talk about the importance of decreasing gas prices and raising oil production. The New York Times states that OPEC’s decision to do the opposite “could hardly have come at a worse time politically for Biden, who had staked his argument for the midterm campaign in part on falling gas prices.” The chances of OPEC’s choice to increase gas prices right at the start of Biden’s midterm campaign by coincidence are exceptionally low. The use of gas for politics affects many people even if it is just to make a point but the leaders of OPEC neglect this thought and still increase prices and people suffer because of it. 

Some speculations about the reason behind the oil production cut is because of Russia which is a big producer of oil and a co-chair of OPEC. OPEC’s choice to retaliate against Biden’s asks of Saudi Arabia shows who OPEC sides with as Russia is currently at war with Ukraine. The announcement of war from Vladmir Putin, Russia’s leader brought many sanctions on the country which deeply hurt Russia’s economy. The sanctions combined with the cost of war have put Russia’s economy into a downward spiral. The sanctions limit many different means of trade with Russia, but they focus on the exports of energy NPR states the attack on energy is because Russia’s “economy is based on energy revenues, now critical to its war effort in Ukraine.” Even with the war, energy and oil production in Russia has not stopped, increasing the likelihood that OPEC is exporting Russian oil at higher prices to aid the suffering economy. Junior Ashlyn Higgins says the decision to increase gas prices to help Russia is also being used to demonstrate “the division between the support for Russia and the support for Ukraine.” 

There are many reasons why the increase in gas prices could be beneficial to OPEC: maybe the cut in oil production is to remain on top of the global market for oil or maybe the increased prices help Russia. These ideas are widespread and easy to understand as “the war with between Russia and Ukraine began gas prices increased,” freshman Audrey Lin states. With this list of reasons behind why OPEC would cut production and evidence to back up the claims, the ministers of OPEC are saying something different. CNN states that according to a readout of the meeting “the ministers of OPEC still argue that the cuts in production were necessary ‘in light of the uncertainty that surrounds the global economic and oil market outlooks.’” This can help the global economy but also hinders the ability of many people to function as it makes travel much more expensive. The increase in travel expenses makes driving to work cost more hindering people’s economic gain and hurting the economy. Sophomore Jacob Gannon says that OPEC itself is harmful to the economy as it “removes a majority of competition, making prices less desirable for the consumer.” The monopoly over gas prices destroys the opportunity for other companies to grow economically and allows OPEC to change prices either raising them or lowering them to their desire. OPEC raises and lowers prices when it benefits them the most, paying attention to how it could affect others.