The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (NOPEC) is a U.S. Congressional bill initially introduced in 2000 designed to remove state immunity from national oil companies (NOCs) of OPEC member countries. The bill aims to enable the U.S. Department of Justice to take judiciary action under U.S. antitrust law for “anti-competitive attempts to limit the supply of petroleum and its impact on oil prices”. These NOCs are currently exempt from the provisions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act when acting in a commercial capacity. Various versions of the bill have been introduced and debated in U.S. Congress for almost 20 years, but the bill has never passed into law. Iterations of the bill were introduced 16 times from 2000 to 2012, with various levels of “success” in advancing in the legislative process.
The main question that arises is whether a NOPEC bill will ever pass Congress and signed into law by a sitting president, and if so, how comprehensive such a law would be. However, in order to address that question, a developed understanding of the bill’s nature is crucial. This project intends to focus on illustrating the history and evolution of U.S. anti-trust laws and examine the history behind the various forms of NOPEC bills and previous attempts at passing the bill into law. It will also attempt to delineate the reasons behind why, and by whom, NOPEC bills have been introduced at different stages in time, as well as which members of Congress tend to vote in favor when these bills come up for a vote. As past trends help predict future occurrences, gaining an understanding of such political motivations retains paramount significance. This project will complement quantitative studies on the effect of OPEC on oil markets (e.g. Pierru, Smith and Zamrik, 2018).
- The project’s aim is to understand the bill’s history, illustrate the Congressional process, and parse out triggers based on empirical predictions