Top 10 Countries with Greatest Oil Reserves

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Posted on December 28th, 2007

Some countries are abundant in water supply but are lacking the natural sources of oil. There are also regions with virtually unlimited supply of both. Unfortunately, oil is a much more expensive commodity and only a few countries are blessed with such a valuable natural resource.

Oil is almost synonymous with energy and every nation is in constant need of energy supply. One way of measuring the potential oil reserve of a country is by estimating the amount of oil barrels that can be extracted from its territories with the use of the economical and technological means available to us today.

Here are the top 10 countries with the highest amounts of accessible oil reserves. Figures are expressed in billions of barrels.

1. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia
National Flag of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of oil and petroleum products. It is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC that currently has 11 members. Much of the nation’s economy is based on petroleum production with 75 percent of Saudi’s budget revenues coming directly from the oil industry while 90 percent of the earnings comes from exports. The 262 billion barrels of oil reserves of Saudi Arabia comprise 24 percent of the overall global petroleum reserves.

2. Canada

National Flag of Canada
Canada is among the few developed countries that export energy supplies. Most of the natural gas deposits of this nation can be found in Atlantic Canada. Their gas and oil reserves are concentrated in Alberta, more specifically found in its northern part known as the Athabasca Tar Sands. Today, the country employs modern surface mining techniques and onsite methods in extracting bitumen from oil sands. It is expected that this scheme will bring overwhelming results to the oil industry of Canada.

3. Iran

National Flag of Iran
The economy of Iran tends to improve as the price of oil goes up in the global market since they mostly rely on export revenues. The country may only be third in oil reserves but it ranks second in natural gas reserves. The average amount of oil barrels produced per day in 2005 was at four million. Such a figure may be too much, but the truth is it’s still low compared to the peak average of Iran in 1974 that reached six million barrels per day.

4. Iraq

National Flag of Iraq
There is a tendency for Iraq’s oil reserves to rise to 300 billion barrels based on the current explorations in the country, according to oil industry experts. As a result, many foreign relations with Iraq have been reestablished. Other countries such as the United States, UK, France, Russia, China, and Japan are all vying for major concessions. Despite the large amount of oil reserves in the country, it is not included in the top ten importers of oil products. This may be attributed to the setback in oil production caused by the war in Iraq.

5. Kuwait

National Flag of Kuwait
Kuwait’s government owns the oil industry and is mostly in control of the country’s economy. In fact, nearly 75 percent of the nation’s GDP is under the power of the government. The amount of oil products exported by Kuwait depends largely on their internal needs since virtually all of the energy used in the country is derived from oil. Being a member of OPEC, the demands of the organization also have effects on the production quotas and prices of oil in Kuwait.

6. U.A.E.

National Flag of U.A.E.
UAE is one of the countries that are rich in oil but lacking in other natural resources. Currently, United Arab Emirates is trying to be less dependent on the revenues they get from processing their own natural resources. Even if this is so the export of natural gas and petroleum products is still a major mover of their economy. Petroleum production is concentrated in two of the seven constituents of UAE such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai, whereas the prior is qualified as an oil state, just like Kuwait.

7. Venezuela

National Flag of Venezuela
Despite only being seventh on this list, Venezuela is successful at being the fifth largest exporter of oil products in the world. The country is also a member of OPEC. Venezuela retains its spot as a major glocal oil contributor, though at times, their oil production is hindered by controversies and protests. About one-third of the country’s GDP is from the petroleum sector. The same industry comprises roughly 80 percent of their total exports and more than 50 percent of government revenues. Two places in the country are known for having the greatest amounts of oil reserves, such as lake Maracaibo and the perimeter of Ornico River.

8. Russia

National Flag of Russia
Russia is the second largest exporter of oil in the world and it’s number one when it comes to producing natural gas exports. The country may only be eighth on this list but they have the greatest amount of natural gas reserves and they rank second in coal reserves. Different natural resources comprise more than 80 percent of Russia’s total exports, including oil, natural gas, timber and various metals. The oil and gas industry is responsible for 5.7 percent of the nation’s GDP. This figure is expected to drop to 3.7 percent come 2011.

9. Libya

National Flag of Libya
The majority of the Libyan economy is dependent on the revenues brought about by the oil industry. Almost all income from the export sector is from oil production as well as roughly one-fourth of the nation’s GDP. The revenues from the oil sector, coupled with their small population, allows Libya to be among the nations with the highest GDP per capita. This also enables their government to provide an outstanding and reliable form of social security especially in the fields of education and housing.

10. Nigeria

National Flag of Nigeria
In the whole continent of Africa, Nigeria is the leading producer of oil and is a major supplier of oil products to Western Europe and the US. By 2010, the amount of proven oil reserves in the country is expected to rise to 40 billion barrels. Currently, Nigeria is a member of the OPEC and is also the 12th largest petroleum producer globally. The nation ranks eighth in petroleum exports. Niger Delta is the main oil producer in the country, but progress has been slowed down because civil strife is currently ongoing in the region. As a result, the oil production and export in the whole region is not operating in full capacity.


You may have observed that having the greatest amount of oil reserves does not automatically mean that the country’s economy will flourish in both oil production revenues and export incomes. There are other factors to be considered, the most important of which is the nation’s capacity to extract their oil reserves and efficiently make use of their resources.

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