The 10 countries with world’s largest oil reserves – with surprising nation in top spot

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun12,2024
The countries with the largest reserves have been ranked, but the nation boasting the top spot may surprise you.

Oil has been one of the most valuable natural resources for a century, enabling otherwise poor countries to rapidly transform into powerful players on the world stage.

World Atlas has ranked the top ten nations using 2024 data from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, revealing the sheer size of the reserves boasted by the globe’s most oil-rich states.

The country with the biggest reserves currently is Venezuela, which is thought to have some 303 billion barrels.

In 2004, the country’s previous leader, Hugo Chavez, oversaw a period of progress thanks largely to a surge in oil prices.

This enabled Chavez to make billions and then invest the earnings in public services such as healthcare, education, and food subsidies.

Political mismanagement of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), Venezuela’s state-run oil company, has been blamed for the country being unable to make the most of its vast stocks and experts say it lacks the basic equipment, supplies, and expertise to extract the oil efficiently.

Saudi Arabia is the second biggest oil producer annually, and has turned out average of over 12 million barrels per day in the last several years, according to the data.

It ranks second on the list with 267 billion barrels.

Iran came in third. Oil is the country’s largest export and the central pillar of its economy, providing supplies to various countries in Asia that rely on imported fossil fuels. The authoritarian state is thought to have reserves of some 208 billion barrels.

Unlike OPEC, World Atlas took into account Canada’s oil sands, which are among the largest deposits on earth, which puts Canada into fourth.

Iraq has been plagued by conflict and instability since the early 2000s, making it difficult for experts to accurately assess how much oil it has amassed.

However, estimates from various sources put their current stocks at anywhere between 112 and 300 billion barrels, with the website ranking them fifth on the list.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also owes much of its financial might to the country’s oil supplies. The UAE churns out over three million barrels of oil per day and ranks in the top five largest exporters globally. Its 113 billion barrels put it sixth on the list.

Kuwait ranks seventh. Its largest oilfield, Burgan Field, is the world’s second-largest conventional field in the world – filled with an estimated 70 billion barrels-worth of crude oil.

Russia and the US also rank in the top 10, with Moscow continuing to fund its war in Ukraine exporting its vast reserves of natural resources.

Though the United States doesn’t come close to the top nations in terms of reserves, it is able to refine 12 million barrels daily, more than any other nation.

Libya took the last spot. Much of its oil wealth was discovered in the 1950s and 60s, and had a transformative effect on the nation.

But the infrastructure boon was undermined in the years that followed by political strife, chronic corruption, and conflict, though the sector is now growing again, slowly.

Countries with top 10 highest oil reserves according to OPEC data

  1. Venezuela – 303.22 Billion Barrels
  2. Saudi Arabia – 267.19 Billion Barrels
  3. Iran – 208.60 Billion Barrels
  4. Canada – 163.63 Billion Barrels
  5. Iraq – 145.02 Billion Barrels
  6. United Arab Emirates – 113.00 Billion Barrels
  7. Kuwait – 101.50 Billion Barrels
  8. Russia – 80.00 Billion Barrels
  9. United States – 55.25 Billion Barrels
  10. Libya – 48.36 Billion Barrels
Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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