Oil is the world’s most popular source of energy, being responsible for more than one-third of energy production. Used to create gasoline, diesel, tar and more, oil is heavily relied on; even with the greater focus being placed on renewable energy resources.
Being oil-rich can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. Countries with considerable oil wealth hold economic and geopolitical power. However, being overly dependent on oil reserves holds great risk, due to the fluctuating price per barrel.
Around 99.3 million barrels of crude oil was used per day in 2018, with that number projected to increase to 100.8 million this year alone.
A full list of oil reserves by country can be found at the bottom of this article. We will be focusing on the top ten richest countries concerning oil reserves.
Top 10 countries with the largest oil reserves (2019)
Oil reserves in barrels
10 countries with the largest oil reserves
In 2000, Venezuela was 8th in the top ten list and has since moved to overtake Saudi Arabia as the country with the largest oil reserves. Topping the list in 2009, Venezuela has been the most oil wealthy country since; with over 300,878,000,000 proven oil barrels.
Between 2012 and 2017, oil production in Venezuela has fallen by 22%
2. Saudi Arabia
Overtaken by Venezuela in 2009, Saudi Arabia currently holds 266,455,000,000 proven oil barrels. Similar to Venezuela, Saudi Arabia is highly dependant on their oil wealth. There are predictions that they will take first position again, with a US Geological Survey estimating that there are more than 100,000 million oil barrels currently undiscovered.
Oil production in Saudia Arabia increased by 2.7% between 2012 and 2017.
The highest proportion of Canada’s oil reserves take the form of oil sand deposits located in Alberta, along with most of the country's other conventionally accessible reserves.
With 169,709,000,000 barrels of proven oil reserves, Canada may not top the world’s chart, but it does hold more barrels than any other North American country.
Between 2012 and 2017, Canadian oil production has increased by 29.2%.
Iran became the third most oil-rich country in the world in 2001 but dropped down to fourth position when Venezuela’s reserves considerably grew.
With 158,400,000,000 barrels of proven oil reserves, Iranian oil is found in almost 150 hydrocarbon fields.
Iran’s oil reserves have increased by 30.4% (2012 - 2017), however, this trend may not continue after the US imposed sanctions that restrict China, Japan, India, South Korea and Turkey from purchasing Iranian oil.
In 2017, crude petroleum made up 95% of the country’s exports making Iraq heavily reliant on their oil wealth. With 142,503,000,000 barrels of proven oil reserves, Iraq has maintained their position as the 5th most oil-rich country since 2007.
Oil production in Iraq has grown substantially, with an increase of 46.8% from 2012 to 2017.
The county’s oil wealth played a part in the Iraq invasion in 1990, leading to Iraq controlling approximately 20% of the global oil supply. Domination of Kuwait lasted for approximately seven months.
This year, Kuwait has 101,500,000,000 barrels of proven oil.
Both oil and gas accounts for over 90% of the country’s export revenue. Between 2012 and 2017, oil production decreased by 4.5%
With 97,800,000,000 proven oil barrels, approximately 40% of UAE’s GDP is based on both gas and oil output.
Oil production has increased by 14.7% over a five-year period (2012 - 2017).
The UAE produce approximately 3.9 million barrels per day, however, it is unlikely that the country will source any additional reserves.
In 1991 Russia was the second most oil-wealthy country. It began slowly moving down the list as its reserves depleted and others increased.
In 2005, Russia’s oil reserves began to increase and have been fluctuating since. Today, Russia holds 80,000,000,000 barrels. There is potential for additional boosts in the country’s reserves as exploration for both oil and gas continues.
Despite the fluctuations, oil production increased by 5.6% throughout 2012 to 2017.
Even though it only holds ninth place globally, Libya holds the most proven oil reserves throughout Africa. Due to previous sanctions, the country is largely unexplored and could hold even greater reserves.
With 48,000,000,000 barrels of oil reserves and petroleum accounting for more than 95% of exports in 2017, the country is highly dependant on their oil wealth.
From 2012 to 2017, oil production in Libya decreased by 42.7%
Nigeria currently hold 37,062,000,000 barrels of proven oil reserves, making it the tenth most oil-rich country in the world and the second most oil-rich country in Africa.
Nigeria took tenth position from the United States in 2000, and maintained this position until 2010 before losing their place. This year, they have reclaimed tenth position.
Between 2012 and 2017, oil production in Nigeria fell by 17.6%
Biggest oil reserves by country
Oil reserves by country (2019)
Oil reserves in barrels