Oil is the fuel of the 20th century. The compact energy source has not only revolutionized locomotion on roads, on water or in the air. The plastics produced from it are indispensable in no area of life. Petroleum is not only found in plastic packaging, but also in clothing (in the form of polyester or nylon) and cosmetics (such as paraffin).
Renewable energies are on the rise and fracking has helped natural gas to make a comeback. But the ubiquity of plastic makes crude oil an indispensable raw material in the long run. But in many places the seemingly inexhaustible black gold is running out for decades. At the same time, former monopolists have faced new competition that is causing prices to fall. All of this makes oil a geopolitical factor.
The British oil company BP lists the proven oil reserves of the different countries in its annual energy report. This means the volume of oil deposits that can be extracted under realistic conditions in the future. Accordingly, a third of the world’s stocks are concentrated in only two countries.
These are the top 10
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# 10 Libya
Libya’s oil reserves totaled 48.4 thousand million barrels in 2018, according to BP. This corresponded to 2.8 percent of the global occurrence. This placed Libya ahead of Nigeria, Kazakhstan and China. A barrel is around 159 liters.
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# 9 USA
The United States ranks ninth among the world’s largest oil nations. Inventories totaled 61.2 thousand million barrels in 2018. That was 3.5 percent of the global reserves. Twenty years earlier, the United States’ oil reserves were estimated at only 28.6 thousand million barrels.
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# 8 United Arab Emirates
In contrast to the USA, the United Arab Emirates have not been able to develop any new oil reserves in the past decades. Its balance sheet of 97.8 thousand million barrels is exactly the same as in 1998. In 2018, the UAE provided around 5.7 percent of the world’s reserves.
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# 7 Kuwait
Kuwait remains one of the world’s leading oil nations long after the Gulf Wars. BP estimated the reserves at 101.5 thousand million barrels. This corresponded to 5.9 percent of the global occurrence.
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# 6 Russia
Russia accounts for 6.1 percent of global oil reserves. The giant state secured sixth place with 106.2 thousand million barrels.
# 5 Iraq
According to BP estimates, 147.2 thousand million barrels of oil are slumbering in the desert soil of Iraq. That is 8.5 percent of the world’s reserves.
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# 4 Iran
Exactly nine percent of the world’s verified oil can be found in Iran. That corresponded to around 155.6 thousand million barrels in 2018.
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# 3 Canada
Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia and the third largest oil nation in the world. According to BP, the reserves recently amounted to 167.8 thousand million barrels (9.7 percent). At the end of 1998, things looked very different. At that time, the infrastructure was only sufficient for the realistic extraction of 49.8 thousand million barrels of oil. This shows how much the North American nation has changed the lucrative oil business. The two leaders are still worlds away from Canada.
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# 2 Saudi Arabia
The persistently low oil prices are particularly hard on Saudi Arabia. The leading oil nation for decades, however, plays a part in the top group in terms of the size of the deposit. BP recently estimated reserves at 297.7 million barrels. This corresponded to 17.2 percent of the global amount.
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# 1 Venezuela
Venezuela had only 76.1 thousand million barrels of oil in 1998. 20 years later, the possible production volume has quadrupled to 303.3 thousand million barrels. The South American country accounts for 17.5 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Its economy is almost entirely dependent on oil exports and has been in a severe crisis for years.