Javier Blas, Krishna Guha and Andrew England
Financial Times 
Monday, Aug 11, 2008
Opec nations earned as much in the first half of this year as they did in the whole of 2007 – thanks both to record oil prices and record production – triggering a big increase in its spending.
Members of the Saudi Arabia-led oil exporters’ cartel took home $645bn (£335bn, €430bn) between January and June, just below the record $671bn they earned last year, according to the US department of energy.
At the current pace, Opec nations would earn about $1,245bn this year, a record.
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The recent 20 per cent drop in oil prices below $120 a barrel is unlikely to damp the earnings significantly, as higher output will offset the impact.
Industry estimates suggest that Opec production in July hit a record 32.6m b/d. The current oil price, at $116.53 a barrel, is still higher than the first half of the year’s average: $111.1 a barrel.
The flood of petrodollars has boosted Opec’s overseas spending, with imports rising up to 40 per cent from last year’s level.