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Which Countries Have the World’s Largest Proven Oil Reserves?

Which Countries Have the World’s Largest Proven Oil Reserves?

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The Countries With the Largest Proven Oil Reserves

Oil is a natural resource formed by the decay of organic matter over millions of years, and like many other natural resources, it can only be extracted from reserves where it already exists. The only difference between oil and every other natural resource is that oil is well and truly the lifeblood of the global economy.

The world derives over a third of its total energy production from oil, more than any other source by far. As a result, the countries that control the world’s oil reserves often have disproportionate geopolitical and economic power.

According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2020, 14 countries make up 93.5% of the proven oil reserves globally. The countries on this list span five continents and control anywhere from 25.2 billion barrels of oil to 304 billion barrels of oil.

Proven Oil Reserves, by Country

At the end of 2019, the world had 1.73 trillion barrels of oil reserves. Here are the 14 countries with at least a 1% share of global proven oil reserves:

Rank Country Oil Reserves
(billion barrels)
Share of Global Reserves
#1 🇻🇪 Venezuela 304 17.8%
#2 🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 298 17.2%
#3 🇨🇦 Canada 170 9.8%
#4 🇮🇷 Iran 156 9.0%
#5 🇮🇶 Iraq 145 8.4%
#6 🇷🇺 Russia 107 6.2%
#7 🇰🇼 Kuwait 102 5.9%
#8 🇦🇪 UAE 98 5.6%
#9 🇺🇸 United States 69 4.0%
#10 🇱🇾 Libya 48 2.8%
#11 🇳🇬 Nigeria 37 2.1%
#12 🇰🇿 Kazakhstan 30 1.7%
#13 🇨🇳 China 26.2 1.5%
#14 🇶🇦 Qatar 25.2 1.5%

While these countries are found all over the globe, a few countries have much larger amounts than others. Venezuela is the leading country in terms of oil reserves, with over 304 billion barrels of oil beneath its surface. Saudi Arabia is a close second with 298 billion, and Canada is third with 170 billion barrels of oil reserves.

Oil Reserves vs. Oil Production

A country with large amounts of reserves does not always translate to strong production numbers for petroleum, oil, and by-products. Oil reserves simply serve as an estimate of the amount of economically recoverable crude oil in a particular region…

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