ENERGY: The Countries With the Most Oil Reserves – Visual Capitalist

Map: The Countries With the Most Oil Reserves (click here)

There’s little doubt that renewable energy sources will play a strategic role in powering the global economy of the future.

But for now, crude oil is still the undisputed heavyweight champion of the energy world.

In 2018, we consumed more oil than any prior year in history – about 99.3 million barrels per day on a global basis. This number is projected to rise again in 2019 to 100.8 million barrels per day.       

The Most Oil Reserves by Country            

Given that oil will continue to be dominant in the energy mix for the short and medium term, which countries hold the most oil reserves?

Today’s map comes from and it uses data from the CIA World Factbook to resize countries based on the amount of oil reserves they hold.

Here’s the data for the top 15 countries below:

Rank Country Oil Reserves (Barrels)
#1 🇻🇪 Venezuela 300.9 billion
#2 🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 266.5 billion
#3 🇨🇦 Canada 169.7 billion
#4 🇮🇷 Iran 158.4 billion
#5 🇮🇶 Iraq 142.5 billion
#6 🇰🇼 Kuwait 101.5 billion
#7 🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates 97.8 billion
#8 🇷🇺 Russia 80.0 billion
#9 🇱🇾 Libya 48.4 billion
#10 🇳🇬 Nigeria 37.1 billion
#11 🇺🇸 United States 36.5 billion
#12 🇰🇿 Kazakhstan 30.0 billion
#13 🇨🇳 China 25.6 billion
#14 🇶🇦 Qatar 25.2 billion
#15 🇧🇷 Brazil 12.7 billion

Venezuela tops the list with 300.9 billion barrels of oil in reserve – but even this vast wealth in natural resources has not been enough to save the country from its recent economic and humanitarian crisis.

Saudi Arabia, a country known for its oil dominance, takes the #2 spot with 266.5 billion barrels of oil. Meanwhile, Canada and the U.S. are found at the #3 (169.7 billion bbls) and the #11 (36.5 billion bbls) spots respectively.

The Cost of Production

While having an endowment of billions of barrels of oil within your borders can be a strategic gift from mother nature, it’s worth mentioning that reserves are just one factor in assessing the potential value of this crucial resource.

In Saudi Arabia, for example, the production cost of oil is roughly $3.00 per barrel, which makes black gold strategic to produce at almost any possible price.

Other countries are not so lucky:

Country Production cost (bbl) Total cost (bbl)*
🇬🇧 United Kingdom $17.36 $44.33
🇧🇷 Brazil $9.45 $34.99
🇳🇬 Nigeria $8.81 $28.99
🇻🇪 Venezuela $7.94 $27.62
🇨🇦 Canada $11.56 $26.64
🇺🇸 U.S. shale $5.85 $23.35
🇳🇴 Norway $4.24 $21.31
🇺🇸 U.S. non-shale $5.15 $20.99
🇮🇩 Indonesia $6.87 $19.71
🇷🇺 Russia $2.98 $19.21
🇮🇶 Iraq $2.16 $10.57
🇮🇷 Iran $1.94 $9.09
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia $3.00 $8.98

*Total cost (bbl) includes production cost (also shown), capital spending, gross taxes, and admin/transport costs.

Even if a country is blessed with some of the most oil reserves in the world, it may not be able to produce and sell that oil to maximize the potential benefit.

Countries like Canada and Venezuela are hindered by geology – in these places, the majority of oil is extra heavy crude or bitumen (oil sands), and these types of oil are simply more difficult and costly to extract.

In other places, obstacles are are self-imposed. In some countries, like Brazil and the U.S., there are higher taxes on oil production, which raises the total cost per barrel.


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  • kamtanblog  On 12/12/2020 at 1:42 am

    Some very interesting statistics! !
    Accepting as factual would like to see similar
    ones on “renewables” …
    Installation cost v production costs !
    Costs per KW of energy produced.

    Solar farms are complementing/replacing the food producing ones …no longer playing “catch
    up” as energy source. 2021-2031 will see significant change in cleaner energy production/expansion.
    Location location location
    Mountain sides facing sunrise most popular
    Or mountains that receive most sunlight next choice. It’s not rocket science …renewables is way forward !

    My two cents
    Kamtan uk-ex-EU

    • brandli62  On 12/12/2020 at 5:00 pm

      Kamtan, I have 23 solar panels on the roof of my home in Switzerland plus a 10KWh batterie to store solar energy. I can cover 90% of my electricity needs. Excess solar energy is used to heat drinking water. No bad for Zurich, which is share same the latitude with New Foundland and Vancouver.

  • brandli62  On 12/12/2020 at 1:18 pm

    The report is not up to date with regard to the Guyana’s oil reserves. At present, they are estimated to be at least 9 billion barrels. This estimate refers only to the Stabroek Block, which as been explored to about 30%.

    • Dennis Albert  On 12/13/2020 at 7:44 pm

      Wikipedia removed the oil reserves for offshore Guyana and Suriname for a strange reason…Tin foil hat?

  • wally n  On 12/12/2020 at 3:51 pm

    Very interesting…..BTW how many panels you think we might need to warm this cold ass CANADA…at least a trillion six foot square???????

    • kamtanblog  On 12/12/2020 at 5:08 pm

      Absolutely hilarious laughter !
      That’s what happens when you steal land from polar bears and Inuits aka eskimos !
      Most wealthy Canadians go south for winter !
      The working class/masses have to freeze.

      Thanks but no thanks

  • wally n  On 12/12/2020 at 5:17 pm

    I always thought “liberals” not deep into transition, now, now i am sure they are not into REALITY…. IDEA ALERT come shovel my driveway, and donate to my hydro bill, experience a lil bit of reality.

  • wally n  On 12/12/2020 at 6:07 pm

    Before people start throwing stones at me, not that I care, I agree that everyone should do whatever they can, like the doc. to slow weather change.
    Between the panels and the device, there is a weak link,the battery. My buddy(wife’s B I L) is deeply involved in the subject, he is in San Jose, and has some very interesting ideas, I can’t share them, The rush to electric everything, cars, trucks,depends on effective energy storage. Hoping liberals think transition, before causing a real problem.

    • brandli62  On 12/13/2020 at 12:25 pm

      Correct, Wally. The solar panel technology is solid and the prices have come down massively due to mass production in China. The inverter technology and the software managing the distribution of solar energy to cover in-house use, to heat the drinking water, charging the batteries or feeding the grid works also like a jem. The storage battery to cover the electricity needs between sunset and sunrise is currently the only critical and most costly component. To achieve full autonomy over 24 hours, you’ll need a 15-20 kWh battery. This comes a cost of about USD 8000.–. The good news is that the battery price are supposed to drop by 50% in the next 3-5 years. Overall, it’s possible with solar energy (even in temperate climate zones) to massively cut down your reliance on the grid for electricity. The bad news for home owners, at locations such as Switzerland, is the fact that 80% of the overall energy consumption is gas or oil needed to keep the homes warm in winter. The use of fossile energy for heating purposes can only be curbed by using heat pumps, which required electricity. Their use is now massively encouraged in Switzerland.

      • kamtanblog  On 12/13/2020 at 2:17 pm

        May like to add…..
        My 10 panels on my roof provides me with free electricity during day….what I don’t use is returned to grid and credited to my electric bill.
        Installation was 50% subsidised by uk government. My installation panels is guaranteed for 25 years. New homes will be built with roof100% solar panels….
        Way forward

      • brandli62  On 12/13/2020 at 3:19 pm

        The problem I have with feeding back electricity into the grid is the following one. The pay 5 cents per kWh for my solar electricity, which the sell to other customers as energy from renewable sources for 28 cents per kWh. If I draw electricity from the grid at night they charge me 20 cents per kWh…. Kamtan, you might get a better deal with your electricity company.

  • Dennis Albert  On 12/12/2020 at 7:57 pm

    Venezuela and Iran are forbidden to export oil.

  • wally n  On 12/13/2020 at 3:07 pm

    Everyone should make an effort, they benefit, and so does the environment.The transition is never gonna be easy, too much money involved. The Ontario Liberals used panels, back to the grid offer, then set up friends with shadow companies was all a sham, eventually it came out Ontario Hydro paid US states millions of dollars to take the over flow, never wanted any thing from homeowners.
    Husband of my friend, mentioned he spent a lot of time in Kiel observing their recycle/burn for heating/electricity trying to convince the Toronto Council to look into it, they turned it down.
    Because of the attitude of Government, and the influence of oil and gas companies, I have zero confidence in their ability or dedication to cleaning the environment.
    Just me I always believed that Guyana should look into the recycle/burn for producing electricity, these are now turn key operations available and today chimneys can be capped for clean air exhaust. Good for rural areas.
    Guyana and the Caribbean should jump at any opportunity to install panels through out the country, up to now, fingers crossed, Sunlight is still FREE.

    • Dennis Albert  On 12/13/2020 at 7:43 pm

      Did Alison Redford have a stake in the green energy scams?
      I didn’t know that Canada was corrupt like the PPP. At least Bharrat Jagdeo doesn’t do anything when I use my Facebook to make fun of him. I’ve heard that Canada uses criminal defamation laws to arrest political dissidents.

  • brandli62  On 12/13/2020 at 3:34 pm

    “Husband of my friend, mentioned he spent a lot of time in Kiel observing their recycle/burn for heating/electricity trying to convince the Toronto Council to look into it, they turned it down.”

    Wally, this is a very important point you raise. In the US, there is the same madness happening! Garbage is put into landfills because it initially cheap, which causes however tons of problem down the road. The garbage needs hundreds of years to completed break down, if at all. The fermenting landfills generate methane and other gases. The toxic run-off from landfills can contaminated the water supply and fixing landfills later is hugely expensive. In Europe landfills are banned and garbage has to be disposed in incinerators. The energy is used to generate electricity and/or for heating purposes. Metals are recovered from the ash and no plastic will end up in landfills. It’s only the cleared ash (5% of the original garbage volume) that will go into landfills.

    The madness of landfills happens even in progressive areas of the US, such as silicon valley. There is a huge landfill ten miles southeast of Facebook’s head quarters at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay. It sits in the middle of a water table….

    I have been arguing in the past that Guyana should replace the landfill sites South of Georgetown with a modern state-of-the-art garbage incinerator. I am sure the EU would generously help to finance to build such a facility and train the people to run it. The garbage incinerator would provide free energy to cover energy needs at night. I have been thinking of contacting the new administration to push this issue.

    • kamtanblog  On 12/13/2020 at 4:03 pm

      Recycling is a growth industry in uk/eu
      Most containers/packaging is now recycled/recycleable ….plastic bags in supermarket/stores all recycled/biodegradable.
      It’s not rocket science.

      USA not even playing catch-up in these developments…hope Guyana does not follow USA !

    • wally n  On 12/13/2020 at 5:07 pm

      Doc, if you have the time you should contact the administration, you have “papers” and experience, my friend (recently passed away) was a consultant to both parties on the oil project for many years, he always refused a position in the administration, he could not spare too much time away from his business.

      • brandli62  On 12/13/2020 at 5:36 pm

        I have not links to either, the former nor the current, administration. But I’ll keep in in mind, if I see a good opportunity to raise the point. I remember that there was a local young business man had suggested an incinerator a few months ago.

    • the only  On 12/14/2020 at 7:45 pm

      You should contact the news papers like k news or stabroek news or radio tv stations and get this thing started.

      • brandli62  On 12/16/2020 at 7:35 am

        I’ll do so after the holidays! Thanks for the suggestions.

  • wally n  On 12/15/2020 at 3:42 pm

    Good News or Bad news????? `

    Russian energy giant Rosneft has announced the discovery of a “unique” gas deposit in the Kara Sea containing an estimated 514 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

    The company says the discovery could establish a new cluster for oil and gas production in the area.

    The field, which has been named after Soviet Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky, is Rosneft’s third discovery in the Arctic. It is part of the company’s drilling campaign to develop the region’s oil and gas potential.

    The project was started by President Vladimir Putin in 2014. It has resulted in the discovery of one of the world’s largest oil and gas fields, the Pobeda field. Its total recoverable reserves stand at some 130 million tons of oil and 422 billion cubic meters of gas.

    • brandli62  On 12/16/2020 at 7:39 am

      Operators pulling back oil and gas investments in Africa as world economy falters

      Here the good news for Guyana:

      “Guyana remains one of the few locations where investment in exploration and production activities have continued largely unaffected despite the demand destruction brought on by the pandemic and the resulting low oil prices. ExxonMobil sanctioned its third project in August, the biggest investment in the South American country’s history, and continues to target multiple exploration prospects in its search for more hydrocarbons.”

  • wally n  On 12/16/2020 at 2:08 pm

    Good news…Bad news????
    As Oil Prices Languish, Alberta Sees Its Future In A ‘Coal Rush’

    …and it’s the Chinese that are burning it and profiting from it, unconcerned by Global Warming nonsense.?????

  • brandli62  On 12/16/2020 at 5:09 pm

    Yes, and they are selling coal-powered power plants to Africa like crazy. At the same time they want to go carbon-free by 2060. Hypocrisy!

  • wally n  On 12/16/2020 at 6:06 pm

    What is surprising is that THEY refuse to admit, today, coal can be burnt “clean” chimneys can be capped to reduce bad emissions. They are maintaining “Leave it in the ground” policy. People are nuts.

  • Brother Man  On 12/16/2020 at 8:04 pm

    As the world turns to clean energy like solar, wind, water, etc., fossil fuel will be gradually phased out and eventually abandoned.

    The promise of quick wealth to lift the troubled land out of poverty is wishful thinking. Too little too late.

    Guyana will always be a poor and divided land, unfortunately. Guyanese will always leave to seek a better life abroad. It’s as if the gods have turned their backs on this forsaken land.

    Brother Man.

    • kamtanblog  On 12/16/2020 at 8:49 pm

      Go ass always seem greener !
      Human nature ..good bad and ugly !

      Economics not to be confused/mistaken with politricks the driving force…..aka market forces


  • wally n  On 12/17/2020 at 12:18 pm

    Lets all hope that Weather Change ……..comes before 2060 or we gonna die! die! die!
    “Storm Gail kills at least three as more snow falls in one day in NYC than the WHOLE of last winter, and more than a thousand crashes are reported on roads across Eastern states including 27-car pile up in New York and head on EMS smash in Pittsburgh………….”

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