Countries with top 10 oil reserves

Now that tension has risen in the gulf, it is important to know just how this will affect you, the average investor, in terms of the countries holding the big amounts of oil reserves

1. Saudi Arabia

There are no surprises at the top, with Saudi Arabia hoarding 19.8% – nearly a fifth – of the world’s oil reserves or a whopping 264.6 billion barrels of oil lying under its vast empty desert territory. In total the Middle East holds 56.6% of world reserves. The Kingdom is currently on a drive to diversify its economy by expanding its refining , petrochemicals and mineral products industries.

2. Venezuela

Infiltrating the top five in the Middle East is Venezuela, which holds 172.3 billion barrels of oil or 12.9% of the world’s oil, easily home to South America’s largest oil reserves. The country dominates South America’s 14.9% global share of oil, with Brazil a far second, with only a 1%. In recent years, crude oil production in the country has fallen, while domestic consumption has risen, causing a decline in net oil exports.

Historically, the United States has been Venezuela’s largest oil export destination but the Latin American country’s importance to the world’s largest energy consumer has diminished over the years particularly in the last decade due to political tensions.

3. Iran

Iran boasts 10.3% of the world’s oil reserves and were it not for the numerous trade sanctions imposed on it – a major hindrance to the development of its oil and gas production infrastructure- the Islamic Republic could potentially find its production to be many orders of magnitude higher. In October 2010 it revised its reserves estimate to 150.31 billion barrels shortly after Iraq’s own reserves revision of 143.1 billion.

Natural gas accounts for half of Iran’s total domestic energy consumption, while the remaining half is predominately oil consumption.

4. Iraq

BP’s latest statistical review puts Iraq in fourth place, with an 8.6% share of the world’s oil. However, the country revised its reserve estimates last October, and currently has 143.1 billion barrels of known and extractible oil, up from the 115 billion barrels previously estimated. If correct, Iraq now has bigger oil reserves than its Iranian neighbour.

Even with its current instability and the slow recovery of its oil and gas industry, Iraq’s oil production is considerable at 2.482 million barrels a day, expect this figure to increase quite rapidly as investment in modernising its energy infrastructure and oil field development gathers pace.

5. Kuwait

Though tiny in comparison to its neighbours, Kuwait still boasts 7.6% of global oil reserves which translates into 101.5 billion barrels of oil. In terms of its production potential, Kuwait pumps out around 2.2 million barrels per day. Political wrangling is usually the main culprit that holds back major investment initiatives in developing the country’s oil and gas infrastructure some of which is desperate need of an overhaul particularly downstream.

6. United Arab Emirates

The UAE ranks in sixth place, and holds a 7.3% share of global oil reserves with 97.8 billion barrels at its disposal. The Gulf state is capable of producing nearly 2.6 million barrels a day. It also has the second-highest production to consumption ratio in the world after Iraq according to the latest edition of Eni’s World Oil & Gas Review. Whilst Abu Dhabi focuses on developing the country’s oil industry, natural gas -particularly unconventional gas – is playing an increasing role in the overall energy exploration and development mix.

7. Russia

With Europe not featuring near the top 10, Russia, in seventh place, is left to take the limelight, with 5.6% of total reserves or 74.2 billion barrels of oil. The United Kingdom holds just a 0.2% share, with Europe and Eurasia as a whole holding 10.3%. Russia’s production capacity of around 10 million barrels a day belies its reserves figures.

8. Libya

Libya tops Africa’s list as having the continent’s largest reserves of oil, and holds a 3.3% share of global reserves at 44.3 billion barrels of oil. Africa as a whole holds a 9.6% share of world reserves. Production in the North African country currently stands at 1.65 million barrels a day. Libya, which has until recently been shunned by the West due to its perceived links to terrorism, is heavily dependent on its hydrocarbons industry.

(however, The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ranks Libya No.7 among its members, with 4.4 percent of OPEC’s proven crude oil reserves. Libya exports most of its oil to Europe, with Italy its biggest customer, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.)

9. Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, in ninth place, holds 3% of the world’s oil at 39.8 billion barrels of oil. It has clocked in a steady reserve amount of 30 billion barrels for the last four years. Production in the Central Asian republic is 1.68 million barrels a day. The Central Asian country has much potential and full development of its major oilfields could make it one of the world’s top five oil producers within the next decade.

10. Nigeria

In tenth place is Nigeria, with a 2.8% share of global oil reserves at 37.2 billion barrels of oil. The country’s oil-rich Niger Delta area has long been marred by tension between militants opposed to foreign oil exploration and the government, which has often led to violence. The West African nation is capable of producing just over 2 million barrels a day.

* Canada

Canada doesn’t quite make it into the top 10 as its oil wealth is locked in difficult, and expensive to extract oil sands. Oil production from such reserves is considered “unconventional” whereas all our top tier players hold their resources in the traditional, or conventional reservoirs, which are much simpler and cheaper to extract. About 95% of Canada’s oil is found in oil sands in its central eastern province of Alberta. Canada’s total oil reserve is 175.2 billion barrels, about 12.94% of world reserves which would put it only behind Saudi Arabia. Current Canadian oil production is at 3.2 million barrels a day.

source: BP


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  2. 2011 report shows Venezuela ranked first due to recent oil dicovery. Is it an indication for cheaper oil price worldwide. Increase of Crude oil demand and world population will be major factors for oil production and higher oil price in 2012 and 2013. China and India playing very important role in rising oil price.

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