OPEC, long a villain in America‘s eyes, is now trying to flip the script

For many Americans, OPEC is the villain of the oil market, a secretive cabal whose members enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of the world by withholding petroleum and driving up the cost of the precious resource.

This week, the group‘s chief representative suggested that itself bears some responsibility for that perception — if only because it has neglected to tell its own story.

“We have been operating in silos for too long, and this is not good practice in today‘s globalized world,” OPEC Secretary Mohammed Barkindo told reporters gathered in Houston for by IHS Markit, one of the year‘s biggest energy conferences.

The admission was just one example of how OPEC is seeking to take ownership of its reputation and change the way Americans think about the group. Under Barkindo‘s stewardship the group is increasingly communicating with U.S. audiences at conferences, think tanks and other events.

The key message is that OPEC is a stabilizing force in a volatile prone to a destructive cycle of boom and bust. By opening the taps or throttling back supply, OPEC can keep oil flows and crude prices at sustainable levels — not too high to hurt consumers, but not too low to choke off necessary investment in future supply.