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Plummeting Oil Prices: Is OPEC intentionally driving oil prices down?

OPEC, which provides one-third of global oil, recently decided to increase its collective output to 31.5 million barrels per day, despite crude oil prices dropping to a seven-year-low, now hovering around $40 a barrel.

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Analysts have began to question OPEC's reason for not cutting back on the output of oil onto the world market in the face of fast falling prices of the commodity.

Concerns have been further fuelled by the members of the organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries- OPEC's decision to increase oil production levels even in the face of falling prices and glut in  global supples.

Members have disagreed with the move and openly criticized the organisation's actions.

That notwithstanding,  OPEC has increased output by 31.5 million barrels daily, something that is believed will further precipitate a fall in prices below the current record- low of $40 per barrel.

The move has come to world powers as bizzare, leading them to question OPEC's motives for the increase in supply. Made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Emirates, and Venezuela, OPEC  has been supplying an oversupplied market with cheap oil- with all its members feeling the pinch.

Venezuela is believed to be the one suffering most under the circumstances. Its economy is suffering tremendous cuts in revenue given that over 90 percent of its revenue comes from oil.

Saudi Arabia has been vociferous a supporter of the move as they do not want to lose market to non- OPEC competitors.

US oil and shale gas production has been expanding in recent years, and with reduced domestic fuel demand this could lead to less reliance on crude imports and a lifting of its oil export ban.

Kim Zietlow, an economist at Humboldt University in Berlin, joins Counting the Cost to discuss OPEC's refusal to cut oil production and what this means for the future of the oil cartel.

Iran is about to re-enter the world of oil markets after years of sanctions and isolation.

With the world's fourth-largest crude oil reserves and the second-largest reserves of natural gas, the Islamic Republic was pumping around 4.5 million barrels of oil a day 10 years ago before international sanctions brought that down to 2.8 million barrels.

When sanctions are lifted, that could rise by a million barrels a day, depending on whether international companies decide to return and invest there.

Azadeh Meskarian, a solicitor with the Iran Department at Zaiwalla & Co, joins the programme to discuss Iran's return and the effects it will have on the oil market.

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