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10 Countries with the Largest Oil Reserves in the World


The first crude oil was successfully drilled and produced in 1859. Since the discovery of oil, it has become the most important natural resource. Oil has completely reshaped the way humans live. It has supplied people with enormous power, caused several wars, and changed human geopolitics as countries seek to control the principal natural resource in human history. Oil is used to fuel transport systems, run machines, produce electricity, and is the main ingredient in various production processes. Due to increased use, oil reserves are getting depleted daily. Statistics show that the following ten countries have the largest oil reserves in the world.

10. Libya- 48.4 billion barrels

At number ten, we have Libya, with an estimated oil reserve of 48 billion barrels. It is the largest oil producer in Africa. According to NS Energy Business, 2.8% of the world's total oil reserves are found in Libya. These oil reserves are the key economic contributors to the country. The Libyan economy is highly dependent on oil and gas exports. It is estimated that 60% of Libya's GDP and export revenue comes from oil export. By 2019, Libya's oil production had increased to about one million daily barrels. Unfortunately, this production was significantly affected when the country went through a civil war that tore everything apart.

The oil industry was targeted with blockades reducing the total output capacity. In 2020, the National Oil Corporation reported a loss of $5 billion due to the closure of oil mining sites. As of 2022, most of Libya's oil fields are found in the eastern part of the country in the Sirte Basin. Other production areas are found in the western part of the country in El Feel and El Sharara fields. Other parts of the country with potential oil reserves are still yet to be explored.

9. The United States-68.8 billion barrels

The United States of America ranks top among the biggest oil-producing countries in the world. Regarding the number of oil reserves, the US is the ninth country with the largest oil reserves in the world. It is approximated that the US has about 68 billion barrels of oil reserves. The oil barrels in this country account for 4% of the world's total number. Since 2009, the US has doubled its oil production by discovering new unconventional resources. 69% of the total crude oil is found in five states: North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico.

The shale oil fracking technology has significantly increased oil production in the last decade. This technology has made it possible for companies to access more oil reserves. However, the coronavirus pandemic almost shuttered the Shale oil companies pushing the oil industry to the brink. Oil production has been greatly affected by the pandemic. The situation is worsened by bullish producers who have taken advantage of this state. They say it will cost $30 per barrel to explore new oil wells.

8. The United Arab Emirates-97.8 billion barrels

The United Arab Emirates is a federation consisting of seven emirates, namely, Abu Dhabi (the capital), Dubai, Ajman, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, and Umm Al Quwain. All these seven emirates have approximately 98 billion barrels of oil, accounting for 5.6% of the world's total reserves. According to World Population Review, the biggest percentage of the country's oil reserves is found in upper and lower Zakum. These oil fields are situated about 84 kilometers northwest of Abu Dhabi. At least 90% of the country's oil reserves are found in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah.

The country exports crude oil, which is the most valuable export commodity. This natural resource has contributed to the transformation of the UAE. When oil was discovered, the country had huge oil reserves, which contributed to the increase in the country's GDP. The country's leaders used the money they got from oil exports to transform the country. They built world-class transport systems and the biggest skyscrapers in the world. As the oil reserves were depleted, the country became a popular tourist destination. Today, oil is second after tourism as the major contributor to UAE's economy.

7. Kuwait-101.5 billion barrels

Kuwait is a small country in the Middle East. Despite the country's small size, it has about 102 billion barrels of oil and is a major contributor to the world's total amount. Kuwait has 5.9% of the world's reserves. A huge percentage of the country's reserves are found in the Burgan field, located near the Persian Gulf. Burgan Field is ranked as the biggest sandstone oilfield. It is also the second-largest oil reserve in the world. Oil was first discovered in Kuwait in 1938.

Kuwait followed UAE and Saudi Arabia in complying with the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) production cut agreement. These three countries will reduce their output to a greater degree than initially agreed. Oil experts support this move saying that this situation will prevent the world's total oil storage capacity from relinquishing. It is a futuristic move to preserve oil reserves before it's catastrophic. Kuwait has a vision for 2035, which the country is implementing. The vision will assist the country in being the global hub of the petrochemical industry. However, part of the vision is the inauguration of Shagaya Renewable Energy Park, the largest energy renewable park.

6. Russia-107.8 billion barrels

Russia contributes about 6.2% of the world's total reserves with 108 billion barrels. The country's major oil reserves are in Siberia. Oil production in Russia is less from the collapse of the Soviet Union. They later privatized the energy industry, causing a revamp in oil production. According to National Interest, in 2019, Russia ranked the third largest oil-producing nation. It comes after Saudi Arabia and the United States. However, at the moment, Russia is looking for ways to explore more oil in the future to boost the oil reserves in the Arctic region.

Russia is a big contributor to the OPEC group. OPEC is oil-producing and exporting nations. In March 2020, during the OPEC convention, Russia decided not to support the reduction in oil cuts. Russia's decision not to agree to the oil cuts caused an anticipated price cut. OPEC had suggested oil output cuts as one of the measures to contain the reduced demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. However, countries like Kuwait, UAE, and Saudi Arabia agreed to the demands of OPEC, and they complied with the oil cut agreements.

5. Iraq-145 billion barrels

Iraq occupies the fifth position of countries with the largest oil reserves. The country has approximately 145 billion barrels contributing 8.4% of the world's total share. However, the country's civil unrest and military invasion affects it in recent decades. Political instability in the country affects the energy sector. However, there are regions in the country with new oil reserves, but the country's political situation has interfered with exploring other reserves.

Political upheaval, economic sanctions, and military conflicts have caused a major blow to the economy of Iraq. It has affected the oil infrastructure, reducing the nation's capability to generate revenue from oil and natural gas exports. Iraq's oil reserves are in Ramadi, Bagdad, and Basra. A report released by the World Bank suggests that Iraq requires an annual investment of $1 billion to sustain its current oil production.

In April 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic affected Iraq's oil production. The oil reserves cut by almost half. The energy ministry shares this statement at the pandemic's peak. The corona crisis has unveiled a new problem for Iraq because of its reduced oil reserves. It has led to officials using unpopular austerity measures. The government of Iraq is considering introducing reduced social benefits.

4. Iran-157.8 billion barrels

As of 2022, Iran has oil reserves amounting to 158 billion barrels. Iran contributes about 9% of the world's share. In recent years, international sanctions on Iraq affect the country's energy sector. The international sanctions are in place for countries because of Iran's suspicious nuclear activities. The coronavirus pandemic affects the country's economy. The pandemic and the US sanctions lead to an economic recession. There is less foreign investment affecting the business environment in the country.

According to Iran Intl, it is expected that the country's oil reserves will continue to sustain it for the next 100 years if it continues to produce oil at the 2006 oil production rates. According to world data, Iran is the second country with the largest natural gas reserves. The country has approximately 32 trillion cubic meters, representing 16% of the world's total share. Iran and Qatar share the world's largest gas field, South Pars/North Dome.

3. Canada-168.1 billion barrels

At number three, we have Canada, with an estimated oil reserve of 168 billion barrels. The oil reserves in Canada contribute to 9.8% of the global resource. The biggest oil reserve in Canada is in the province of Alberta. This accounts for 97% of Canada's reserves. Alberta also has a considerable percentage of the country's conventional oil resources. Oil is one of the major exports of Canada.

In 2019, the US imported around 3.7 million barrels of oil daily from Canada. According to CER REC, this amount was 98% of the country's total exports. Canada has five main companies which produce more than half of the country's oil production. The five companies are Imperial Oil, Suncor, Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus, and Husky. The 2020 pandemic significantly affected Canada's oil production. Experts suggest that the country needs about one million barrels daily to reduce its oil production.

2. Saudi Arabia-297.5 billion barrels

Several decades ago, Saudi Arabia was the country with the world's largest oil reserves. Saudi Arabia was number one until Venezuela became number one with the discovery of new oil reserves. The country has around 298 billion barrels of crude oil, accounting for 17.2 % of the world's total share. Saudi crude oil is in a few oilfields. Ghawar field is Saudi's largest oil field and the largest in the world. It is located in the eastern part of the country. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy, and the royal family controls a huge percentage of its oil reserves.

The monarchy has a company called Saudi Aramco which they use to control the country's oil. In 2019, the company is on the Tadawul stock exchange and ranks as the most valuable companies in the world. Aramco is a successful oil company and the most profitable in the world. The company produces more barrels of oil daily than any other company in the world. If Saudi Arabia continues with oil exploration activities, it'll regain its top position soon.

1. Venezuela-303.8 billion barrels

Venezuela is the country with the largest oil reserves in the world. The country accounts for about 17.5% of the world's share, with more than 304 billion barrels of oil. In recent years, economic sanctions and political unrest have greatly interfered with oil exploration activities in the country. One tragic example was the bursting of the country's oil tanks, leading to oil leaks for four consecutive days. However, oil workers blamed the government for poor maintenance and lack of investment in the country's oil reserves.

Venezuela has large deposits of oil comparable to Canada's. The country has Orinoco tar known to be vicious, and it is possible to produce it using conventional methods. According to CSIS, over the last few months, the Center for Strategic and Internal Studies (CSIS) has released several reports on the deteriorating situation in Venezuela's oil industry. However, the report suggests the situation worsens. The country's oil production is at its lowest in nearly 50 years.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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