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File on: Emma of Normandy

1973 Fiftieth anniversary

OPEC energy crisis

David McGill reflects on the impact of the OPEC energy crisis

In October 1973 members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) proclaimed an embargo on shipments of oil to the USA. The decision to impose the embargo was led by Saudi Arabia and was a response to US support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War. OPEC wanted the USA to encourage Israel to the negotiating table and Israel to withdraw from territory it had occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967.

The embargo later widened to include US allies such as the Netherlands, Portugal, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa. The embargo was followed by permanent sharp price increases in oil. After negotiations the embargo was lifted in March 1974, but its economic impact was considerable. The crisis had highlighted the vulnerability of western economies to oil supply issues.

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File on: Emma of Normandy

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