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At OPEC Meeting, Saudi Arabia Stares Down Texas and North Dakota

An oil tanker docked at a floating platform on Sept. 21, offshore from the southern Iraqi port city of Al Faw
An oil tanker docked at a floating platform on Sept. 21, offshore from the southern Iraqi port city of Al FawPhotograph by Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP via Getty Images

On Thanksgiving Day, what used to be the world’s most powerful oil cartel will gather in Vienna to decide how much oil to produce. Right around the time that the Bears and Lions are getting underway at in Detroit, delegates of the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will finish a closed-door meeting and announce to the world how much oil they intend to collectively pump over the next year.

In another setting, a group of people who sell the same product getting together to talk about ways to manipulate prices would be seen as blatant collusion. But this is OPEC—that’s basically the whole point. The founding premise back in 1960 was to wrest control of oil production—and the ability to set prices—from the handful of large Western oil companies that had taken over much of the Mideast after World War II.