Which countries, on the planet, are the biggest producers of oil? Many of us will think of the Middle East when oil is mentioned. This is understandable, as in fact one of the manufacturers of motor and industrial oils, Q8, is even called after Kuwait, but do the figures show that countries in that region are actually producing the most?
Those countries with significant oil reserves can generate revenue from any oil they produce that is more than the amount required by their own domestic consumption. Conversely, where countries do not have much of their own oil to draw upon, their oil expenditure has to be taken into account when their governments draw up budgets.
The supply of oil can be further complicated once events such as civil disturbances in oil-producing areas are factored in. Then new oil reserves may be discovered, and technological advances can dramatically affect the process of oil extraction.
Globally, over 80 million barrels of oil were produced per day in 2018. This is according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Their research found that the planet’s top five nations in terms of oil production accounted for almost half of the world’s oil output – this includes products ranging from unfinished oils, to petroleum and fully refined lubricants.
Alternative sources of fuel and energy are growing in popularity, yet oil continues to be highly significant within the world’s economy. One country that is predicted to play an increasingly important part in this is Canada, as oil sands mean they should see one of the highest percentage growths in oil production over the course of the coming decades.
The EIA’s most recent data lists the five biggest oil producing nations on the planet as follows:
The United States’ oil production surpassed Russia’s in 2012 and Saudi Arabia’s in 2013, and has remained number one ever since. The country currently supplies 18% of the world’s oil. Part of the increase is due to the fracking taking place in the states of North Dakota and Texas.
Saudi Arabia contributes 12% of the world’s oil, and the sector accounts for around 42% of their annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a whopping 90% of its export income. There are a large number of major oil fields within the country.
Despite dropping down the list a little, Russia remains one of the world’s major players in terms of oil production. Around 11% of the world’s oil comes from Russia, and a significant proportion of their oil is sourced from oil fields in Western Siberia. After the collapse of the former Soviet Union the oil industry was privatised, but has since reverted to the control of the state.
China’s contributes around 5% of the planet’s oil, although in 2018 the country’s consumption significantly exceeded its production. Oil fields in China have now passed their peak, and the country is investing in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) instead. These include stream and polymer flooding and water injection.
Canada is the fifth biggest oil producer in the world, and its output contributes around 5% of the world’s oil. Canada’s oil production in predicted to rise sharply, and could even double by 2050 according to the EIA. Oil sands in Alberta and the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin in particular are expected to explain the increase. Although oil sand extraction is currently very pricey, technological advances are predicted to reduce costs.
How the oil producing picture has changed
If you compare the data from 2018 to an infographic we produced in 2015, you can see some shifts in the oil industry’s major players. The USA was in the top spot, but was followed by Singapore in second place, who now do not even feature in the top five. Germany was in fifth place too, yet are now also absent from the top five list. Russia and China were in third and fourth places respectively.
Which country has the best quality of oil?
According to Rentar, the world’s finest crude oil comes from Malaysia. Tapis oil is very light and has a very low sulphur content, which result in a high price tag. The supply is small, however, so Tapis, which comes from Malaysia but is traded in Singapore, does not generate the highest income. The second, third and fourth spots also go to Malaysian oils.
Other oils that are highly regarded globally come from Sumatra in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, the North Sea and Algeria, as well as a couple of US states; namely Minnesota and Texas.
Where does the UK’s oil come from?
An infographic produced by Statista shows that the UK’s imported oil in 2018 were led by Norway. The USA, Algeria, Nigeria and Russia were the other major suppliers in the top five. Meanwhile, the Netherlands was the main country to import oil produced in the UK.
When will the world run out of oil?
According to the US-based EIA, world oil production is actually expected to increase by 2050. The organisation estimate that production will rise from the current figure of around 80 million to about 107 million in 2050.
In truth, no one really knows when and if the planet’s oil supply will run dry. New sources of oil are being discovered all the time, and the development of extraction technology means that oil can now be retrieved from relatively new sources such as shale and oil sand.
There is no way of knowing how much oil is under the seabed, and even if we did know, this oil might or might not be accessible. It depends on so many factors, chiefly technological advances that improve extraction while making it more cost effective, as well as the actual amount of oil that is currently known to exist. New oil sources could also play a major part, but until these are discovered – and a means of extraction decided upon – their contribution cannot even be guessed at.
Another factor is the development of alternative energy sources for the supply of domestic, motor and industrial fuel. As more fuel-efficient vehicles, heating systems and other technologies are produced, there could be a corresponding decrease in the demand for oil – but against this is the possibility of an increase in global demand, due in part to an ever-growing world population.