Oil has proven to be one of the most important commodities in the world. It powers industries and has made those who own it powerful and rich. Entire countries in the Middle East have been transformed, with their citizens now among the richest men on Earth. And chances are, oil will remain as precious and important as it is today.
This is why countries have been on the lookout for more sources of oil. Canada has a lot of oil to be recovered from its shale oil sands in Alberta. It may be expensive to recover, but given the current economic situation, it is still considered viable. Venezuela has also dug up heavy oils in Orinoco. The United States also has a significant amount of shale oil.
Those who have it will wield a lot of influence in the future. Here are the 10 countries with the biggest oil reserves. This only covers those that have been proven to be commercially recoverable and economically viable. Numbers are in million barrels, or MMbbl.
10 Kazakhstan – 30,002-39,800 MMbbl
Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world with an area that is bigger than the entire Western Europe. The country has a diverse terrain consisting of rock canyons, deserts, flatlands, steppe, taiga, deltas, hills and snow-capped mountains. Oil production has been expanding and new fields are constantly being developed as analysts estimate that the country will become one of the top oil-producing countries by the middle of this decade. Oil represents a third of its exports and a fourth of its gross domestic product. Major fields include Tengis, Karachaganak and Kashagan.
9 Libya – 47,102-48,014 MMbbl
Libya is a country in North Africa that is currently undergoing reconstruction after the ouster of its former leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Its economy is largely dependent on the oil sector, with the commodity accounting for 97 percent of all its exports and 80 percent of its gross domestic product. The country has the largest proven reserves in Africa. It is a major contributor to the supply of light, sweet crude oil to the rest of the world.
8 Russia – 60,003-116,000 MMbbl
Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of land area, covering one-eighth of the planet. Located across northern Eurasia, it spans nine time zones and a whole range of landforms and environments. It is one of the largest producers of oil and gas and has one of the largest reserves of mineral and energy resources. Aside from having the eighth largest oil reserves, it also has the largest natural gas reserves and the second largest coal reserves. It is also the top producer and exporter of natural gas.
7 United Arab Emirates – 97,800 MMbbl
The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates, namely Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Quwain. It is one of the most developed economies in West Asia with a per capita income that is one of the highest in the world. Oil and natural gas account for 85 percent of its entire economy.
6 Kuwait – 103,998-111,500 MMbbl
Kuwait is an Arab country located in Western Asia. Oil was discovered in the country as early as the 1930's, but it was only in 1961 that it experienced tremendous economic growth. It was the focal point of the first Gulf War after Iraq invaded and annexed the country in 1990. The World Bank considers it as a high-income economy with one of the highest human development index in the Arab world. Petroleum products are responsible for 80 percent of the country’s income, as well as 95 percent of its exports.
5 Iran – 151,167-154,580 MMbbl
Iran is a country strategically located in Western Asia. The country has a semi-developed economy and plays an important role in the world economy and energy security because of its huge oil and natural gas reserves. Around 45 percent of its budget comes from the revenues that it earns from oil and natural gas.
4 Canada – 173,625-175,200 MMbbl
Canada is the second largest country in the world that extends from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and upwards towards the Arctic Ocean. It shares the longest land border in the world with the United States. It is one of the few developed countries that are net exporters of energy. It has vast offshore deposits of natural gas, while the province of Alberta holds a significant amount of oil and gas. It also has a massive amount of reserves because of the Athabasca oil sands. It is ranked highly in terms of human development, income equality and economic freedom.
3 Iraq – 175,421-178,350 MMbbl
Iraq is a country in Western Asia with a landscape unique to the region. It has two major rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, that allow the country to have land capable of cultivating agricultural crops. It is one of the founding members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC. It hopes to further increase production in the future by awarding service contracts to international oil companies for some of its oil fields.
2 Venezuela – 211,169-297,571 MMbbl
Venezuela is a country in South America that boasts of an extremely high biodiversity, with mountains, rainforests, plains, seacoasts and river deltas covering the land. It is considered as one of the most urbanized countries in South America. It is one of the largest crude oil producers in the world, with massive deposits in the areas of Lake Maracaibo, the Gulf of Venezuela and the Orinoco River basin. It has conventional oil, natural gas, extra heavy crude oil, bitumen and tar sands. Even more amazing is that they do not rely on any of those for electricity as relies mainly on hydropower.
1 Saudi Arabia – 265,405-460,017 MMbbl
Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab state in Western Asia in terms of land area. Its oil reserves are concentrated on the Eastern Province. It accounts for 95 percent of its exports and 70 percent of revenues. Aside from having the largest oil reserves in the world, it also has the sixth largest reserves of natural gas.