History - The Definition of the Organization


The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) is a regional inter-governmental organization established by an agreement signed in Beirut on January 9, 1968 by Kuwait, Libyan (Kingdom of Libya at that time) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The three founding members chose the state of Kuwait for the Organizations' domicile and headquarters.

Recognizing the role of Petroleum as a principal and basic source of its members' income, OAPEC is concerned with the development and prosperity of the world petroleum industry by fostering close and fruitful cooperation among its members.

It is guided by the belief in the importance of building an integrated petroleum industry as a cornerstone for future economic integration amongst Arab countries and contributes to the effective use of the resources of member countries through sponsoring joint ventures.

By 1982 the membership of the Organization increased to eleven Arab oil exporting countries namely: Algeria (1970), Bahrain (1970) (now Kingdom of Bahrain), Egypt (1973), Iraq (1972), Kuwait (1968), Libya (1968), Qatar (1970), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1968), Syria (1972), Tunisia (1982) and United Arab Emirates (1970).

In 1986, Tunisia submitted its membership withdrawal request from the Organization. The Ministerial Council deliberated the request and agreed to suspend Tunisia's rights and obligations in OAPEC until such a time that Tunisia chooses to reactivate its membership.

The Organization carries out its functions and responsibilities through the following four organs:


The Council is the supreme authority of the Organization, responsible for drawing up its general policy, directing its activity, and laying down the rules governing it.

The Council is concerned with the following:

  • Deciding on applications for joining membership and approving invitations to petroleum exporting countries to attend its meetings.
  • Taking resolutions, making recommendations, and giving advice with regard to the general policy of the Organization, or it's attitude or the attitude of a particular member or particular members vis-a-vis a particular situation or issue or particular situations or issues.
  • Choosing negotiators and appointing committees to negotiate on behalf of the Organization.
  • Approving draft agreements reached by the Organization.
  • Issuing the necessary regulations and amendments thereto. and the
  • Approving the Organizations draft annual budgets (the General Secretariat and the Judicial Board), and ratifying the end-of-year accounts.
  • Appointing the Secretary General and Assistant Secretaries.
  • Supervising and directing the work of the Bureau and the Secretariat.

The Council is composed of the ministers of petroleum of each of the member countries or an official enjoying a comparable degree of responsibility for petroleum affairs. The chairmanship of the Council rotates annually among the representatives in the alphabetical order of their countries.

Its meetings are convened at least twice a year. Extraordinary sessions may be convened at the request of a member country or the Secretary General.

The Executive Bureau

The Executive Bureau assists the Ministerial Council in supervising the Organization's affairs and has the following competencies:

  • Consider matters relating to the application of the Organization's Agreement and the performance of its activities and functions.
  • Submitting such recommendations and proposals as it sees fit to the Council concerning matters falling within the scope of the establishing Agreement.
  • Approve the staff regulations of the Secretariat and introduce appropriate amendments thereto after consultation with the Secretary General.
  • Review the Organization's draft annual budget and refer it to the Council together with the Secretary General's observations.
  • Draw up agendas for the Council.
  • Perform functions and tasks as may be assigned to it by the Council.

The Bureau is composed of one representative from each of the member countries, and are appointed by the country concerned. Each of them assumes chairmanship of the Bureau by rotation according to the alphabetical order of the member countries for a period of one year.

General Secretariat

The General Secretariat plans, administers and executes the Organization's activities in accordance with the objectives stated in the Agreement establishing OAPEC, and with the resolutions and directives of the Ministerial Council. Its administration is assumed by a Secretary General.

Its departments and committees shall carry out their task in accordance with the Secretary General's instructions and directives within the limits of the powers vested in him.

The seat of the Secretariat shall be the headquarters of the Organization.

The Judicial Board

The Judicial Board is the fourth OAPEC organ created under the Agreement. It was established by a special Protocol that was signed in Kuwait on May 9, 1978. The Protocol was attached to the Organization's Agreement and came into effect on April 20, 1980. Judges of the Board (Tribunal) were first elected on May 6,1981.

The protocol stipulated that the Tribunal shall consist of an uneven number of judges of Arab citizenship, who shall not be less than seven and not more than eleven.

The Judicial Board (Tribunal) also has an advisory jurisdiction enabling it to give its opinion on issues referred to it by the Ministerial Council. Its judgments are considered final and binding on the parties of the dispute and shall be enforceable in territories of member countries.