OPECâ€™S annual revenues from oil and gas sales topped $1 trillion last year for the first time, according to figures published yesterday by the cartel.
The 12-nation group, which pumps about a third of the worldâ€™s crude oil, said that the value of its exports had risen by 35 per cent during 2008 to $1,007 billion, up from $746 billion in 2007 â€” itself a former record.
The figures were boosted by soaring oil prices, which hit an all-time peak of $147 per barrel last July, although later they plummeted to end the year close to lows of just over $32 a barrel.
The figures in OPECâ€™s Annual Statistical Bulletin showed that Saudi Arabia was easily the biggest beneficiary of the surge in crude prices. The cartelâ€™s de facto leader earned $283 billion from oil exports last year, up from $206 billion in 2007.
Opecâ€™s other members â€” Angola, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Ecuador, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Libya and Algeria â€” all benefited from firmer prices.
Abdullah al-Badri, OPECâ€™s secretary-general, said that he was â€œcomfortableâ€ with the present oil price of $60 to $70 per barrel, but would like it to be higher. â€œPrices at this time are comfortable, but they are not at the level we are shooting for,â€ he said.
OPEC also said that its total proven reserves of crude oil had risen by 7.9 per cent last year to 1.027 trillion barrels. This was chiefly thanks to a reappraisal of Venezuelaâ€™s oil reserves, which rose to 172 billion barrels in 2008, from 99 billion in 2007.
If the figures are correct, that would move Venezuela from fifth to second place in a ranking of different countriesâ€™ oil reserves. Saudi Arabia has the worldâ€™s largest proven reserves at 264 billion barrels.
Iran and Iraq had previously been viewed as holding the second and third-biggest reserves, with 138 billion and 115 billion barrels respectively.
Many analysts have suggested that Opecâ€™s reserves figures may be exaggerated.