Countries with the most oil and who they're selling it to

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October 9, 2019
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Countries with the most oil and who they're selling it to

With global oil demand rising by 1.3% in 2018, the demand for oil is higher than it has ever been before. Besides being used in fuel distillation, crude oil is also an essential manufacturing component used to make plastics, machine lubricants, packing wax, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fabric, and industrial chemicals such as sulfuric acid, asphalt, paraffin.

While alternative refinement methods like hydraulic fracturing and bitumen extraction have significantly extended the world's oil supply, oil is so essential that the theoretical threat of running out haunts conversations about global oil usage.

To understand how much oil the world produces and determine countries with the world's largest reserves, Stacker examined the most recent data on proven crude oil reserves and crude oil production from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Among the criteria examined are the volume of proven crude oil reserves, daily production in barrels per day, and nations producers primarily sell to. This review focuses only on proven or independently documented oil reserves, and additional information on petroleum exports came from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Collective Learning Group.

For some nations, such as Syria, currently in a state of war or under international sanctions, Stacker limited observations to facts that are known to the international community. The amount of crude oil reported may not reflect oil that was mined but burned due to an inability to sell or reserves destroyed by war or terrorism. Oil reserves are an estimate based on the amount of crude oil located in a country and the country's ability to extract under their current technological capability.

Crude oil reserve data for all countries except for the U.S. are accurate as of 2019. The most recent crude oil reserve data for the U.S. are from 2018. Petroleum exports data for all countries are accurate as of 2017. Countries included in this list are ranked by volume of proven oil reserves.

Keep reading to find out the controversial nation that came in as #1 and their surprising best customer.

You may also like: Countries most dependent on oil

#30. Syria

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 2.5 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 27,935 barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017): data not available

The United States pullout of forces from war-struck Syria may expose the country's eastern oil fields to Syrian government control. The fields that were controlled by American armed forces included the Conoco natural gas facility—the largest capacity gas field in pre-war Syria— and Syria's largest oil field, the Al-Omar oil field. This could translate into Russia taking a controlling interest in Syria's oil production.

#29. Yemen

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 3 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 61,293 barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. China: 89%
--- #2. India: 10%
--- #3. United States: 1%

A proxy war between Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iranian-supported Houthi rebels has deeply impacted the oil output of the Middle East's poorest country. With oil production shut down in 2015 due to the war, Yemen has yet to return to pre-war production levels. However, foreign investments—particularly from Austria—is helping the nation recover energy-wise.

#28. Indonesia

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 3.2 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 913,611 barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. Thailand: 18%
--- #2. United States: 13%
--- #3. Japan: 13%

Regulatory uncertainty following the passage of its 2001 oil and gas laws have led to a slump in oil production in Indonesia. Reforms to production regulations and pressure for the government to take over domestic assets from foreign oil companies have led many to hope for a resurgence in oil production. Foreign intervention in Indonesia's current energy production is seen as a hindrance to domestic energy growth.

#27. Egypt

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 3.3 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 667,796 barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. China: 16%
--- #2. Germany: 14%
--- #3. India: 13%

One of the few non-OPEC oil producers in the Middle East, Egypt controls the sixth-largest oil reserve in Africa. A lack of foreign investors, however, has left Egypt's oil potential underdeveloped. The country is currently seeking international developers for Red Sea oil development and is hoping to expand exports to Europe.

#26. Malaysia

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 3.6 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 749,516 barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. Australia: 23%
--- #2. Thailand: 17%
--- #3. India: 16%

The Malaysian oil industry is wholly owned and controlled by PETRONAS—the Petroliam Nasional Berhad, a wholly owned asset of the Government of Malaysia that ranks among the top-10 most profitable companies in the world. Malaysia is dependent on PETRONAS for half of its government budget. PETRONAS has recently developed a new processing facility called RAPID, which is set to sell fuel to Indonesia.

#25. Vietnam

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 4.4 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 253,720 barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. China: 41%
--- #2. Japan: 14%
--- #3. Australia: 12%

Vietnam has a very complicated relationship with its neighbor China. Despite China's support of Vietnam during the Vietnam War, the 1979 Chinese invasion of Vietnam and current geopolitical challenges have set Vietnam and China up as regional energy rivals. China has largely curtailed Vietnam's offshore energy development, forcing Vietnam to develop its renewable energy infrastructure. However, the U.S.-China trade war has companies looking to Vietnam as an alternative.

#24. India

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 4.4 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 1 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. United States: 87%
--- #2. South Africa: 13%

India hit a record low level of oil production in March, the lowest level of production for the country in nine years. With an oil dependence level of 83.8%, the decline in production from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation's oil fields have led the nation to develop a 10-year plan to reduce oil dependency.

#23. Sudan

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 5 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 97,981 barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. India: 43%
--- #2. China: 42%
--- #3. Indonesia: 11%

Currently, the Sudanese oil industry is in a fight with its neighbors. In the Red Sea, the Sudanese government is contending that Egypt is mining oil in its territory. This is complicating the oil mining situation in Sudan, as most of Sudan's oil production areas are in the south in reserves shared with South Sudan. Sudan is thought to have reached peak oil—where oil production reaches its maximum level and starts to decline—in 2008, although revenue levels have been sustained at current levels, with another decade of consistent production predicted.

#22. Oman

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 5.4 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 988,213 barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. China: 82%
--- #2. India: 10%
--- #3. Japan: 4%

Oman's oil production is largely controlled by Petroleum Development Oman, a privately held company owned by the Oman government, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, and Partex. A significant player in international oil development, Oman invests heavily in foreign oil infrastructure, such as a refinery project in Sri Lanka. This has given Oman a significant role in OPEC and international oil politics.

#21. Azerbaijan

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 7 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 808,482 barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. Italy: 40%
--- #2. Canada: 7%
--- #3. Czech Republic: 7%

One of the traditional birthplaces of the petroleum industry, some of the oldest modern oilfields were mined in Azerbaijan by Imperial Russia. It's not surprising the nation has reached peak oil some time ago and will be running out soon—likely, in 30 years. As Azerbaijan's economy has been tied to oil for centuries, running out of oil will likely cause hardship for the nation.

#20. Mexico

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 6.4 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 2.1 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. United States: 53%
--- #2. Spain: 15%
--- #3. India: 13%

Many of the oil reserves tapped in Texas and Southwestern United States are shared by Mexico. However, underdevelopment of the Mexican oil infrastructure has prevented the nation from standing toe-to-toe with its northern neighbor. With much of Mexico's oil development coming from foreign companies, Mexico's current financial stability may convince the country to invest in domestic energy infrastructure.

#19. Norway

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 8.6 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 1.9 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. United Kingdom: 39%
--- #2. Netherlands: 14%
--- #3. Germany: 11%

Offshore mining in the North Sea has driven the Norwegian economy since the 1960s. With most of Norway's oil production being exported, Norway provides 2% of the world's oil demand and provides 25% of the European Union gas demand. Oil and natural gas make up about 50% of the nation's exports.

#18. Ecuador

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 8.3 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 517,079 barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. United States: 63%
--- #2. Chile: 19%
--- #3. China: 6%

A member of OPEC, Ecuador's oil production is controlled by EP Petroecuador, the national oil company. EP Petroecuador is primarily owned by Ecuador due to national rules against foreign ownership of utilities. EP Petroecuador's oilfield development is threatening Ecuador's environment and indigenous people, forcing the South American nation to balance environmentalism and its oil industry. Oil forms a large percentage of the Ecuadorian economy, complicating the dilemma.

#17. Angola

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 8.4 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 1.7 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. China: 67%
--- #2. India: 11%
--- #3. United States: 8%

The second-largest oil exporter in Africa and the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, Angola is another peak oil state relying on expanded exploration to revive slipping production numbers. This situation is acute for Angola as oil makes up 95% of all the nation's exports and 70% of the government revenue. Angola's oil issues can derail the growth of its economy, one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

#16. Algeria

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 12.2 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 1.6 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. France: 16%
--- #2. United Kingdom: 11%
--- #3. Netherlands: 7%

Another member of OPEC, Algeria's oil production, so far, has been unaffected by protests and unrest because of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's rule. Bouteflika has ruled for 20 years, despite suffering a stroke that has left him in a wheelchair and partially mute and twice amending the constitution to allow his continued tenure. The protests, triggered by Bouteflika's announcement of a run for a fifth term, led Bouteflika to opt not to run. The political unrest, however, has led to a lack of foreign investments, leading the Algerian oil industry to stop growing.

#15. Brazil

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 12.8 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 3.4 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. China: 43%
--- #2. United States: 17%
--- #3. Chile: 10%

Like many former colonial states, Brazil suffers from a lack of domestically built infrastructure. It is estimated that there is enough untapped oil offshore of Rio de Janeiro to fuel the world for half a year. Government-owned Petroleo Brasileiro S.A.—also known as Petrobras—virtually controls the nation's oil production. Currently, Petrobras—despite being government-owned—is blocking the Brazilian government from engaging in offshore development in the pre-salt regions in Brazil's southeastern waters.

#14. Qatar

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 25.2 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 1.9 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. Japan: 32%
--- #2. Singapore: 29%
--- #3. South Korea: 25%

One of the richest economies in the world, Qatar is a major oil power. All oil activity in the tiny nation is controlled by state-owned Qatar Petroleum. Qatar's oil reserves are the third-largest in the world and constitute 60% of Qatar's GDP. Investments from the United States and other nations mean that Qatar has one of the best oil infrastructures in the world, with pipelines to Oman, the UAE, and Qatar.

#13. China

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 25.9 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 4.8 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. Japan: 52%
--- #2. Malaysia: 12%
--- #3. Thailand: 10%

China is the largest economy in the world. Since President Obama lifted the 40-year-old embargo on oil exports to China, China became one of the largest buyers of American oil. However, the U.S.-China trade war shut off the taps on oil purchases between the world's super economies. Despite depending on imports for about half of its oil needs, China still exports a significant amount of oil—largely for strategic reasons.

#12. Kazakhstan

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 30.0 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 2.0 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. France: 15%
--- #2. Netherlands: 12%
--- #3. Germany: 8%

A net energy exporter, Kazakhstan controls 9% of the world's oil reserves. However, the quality of Kazakhstan crude—which contains a high level of mercaptan, a sulfur alcohol analog also known as thiol—makes it difficult to be used by European refineries. With the growing availability of U.S. shale oil, Kazakhstan is having a harder time selling its oil in the global market at a decent price.

#11. Nigeria

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 36.2 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 2.1 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. India: 20%
--- #2. United States: 16%
--- #3. Spain: 10%

The second-largest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria's oil production has suffered from sabotage, civil unrest, kidnappings, and militant actions. It has also reached peak oil, with the nation having about 35 years of oil remaining from its currently discovered reserves. Before the discovery of shale oil in the United States, Nigeria sent 43% of its exports to the U.S. Since then, India has taken up the slack. Nigeria has also dragged its feet on passing the needed reforms to improve exports, while other African producers—like Kenya and Tanzania—have moved to be more competitive.

#10. United States

- Proven crude oil reserves (2018): 42 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 17.9 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. Canada: 34%
--- #2. China: 20%
--- #3. United Kingdom: 9%

The primary driver of the current global oil demand growth, the United States has the largest one-year growth in demand. The United States is also the world's export leader for energy products, including oil, natural gas products, and petroleum derivatives and is predicted to surpass Saudi Arabia in 2019 as the world's largest exporter of oil and liquids.

#9. Libya

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 48.4 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 1.1 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. Germany: 18%
--- #2. Spain: 14%
--- #3. Italy: 14%

The largest oil exporter and largest oil reserve in Africa, Libya has endured its share of political turmoil, impacting its exporting capabilities. Due to its low cost of oil production, low sulfur content, and proximity to the European Union, Libyan oil has always been considered prime on the global market. However, international sanctions and lack of foreign investments have left much of Libya's oil capacity underdeveloped. The continued warring in the nation leaves the oil field inaccessible for infrastructure development, leaving the Libyan economy in question.

#8. Russia

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 80 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 11.4 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. China: 21%
--- #2. Netherlands: 15%
--- #3. Germany: 10%

In 2018, Russia reached a post-Soviet high in oil production. With much of the USSR's oil capability now being held in independent states, Russia has struggled to meet domestic oil demands. This has led to increased pressure on the former dependent states and on neighbors, such as Syria, despite controlling some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world. The Russian economy is dependent on oil exports, and the Russian government is actively seeking foreign investment to grow its oil and natural gas infrastructure.

#7. United Arab Emirates

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 97.8 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 3.8 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. Japan: 35%
--- #2. India: 15%
--- #3. Singapore: 13%

The United Arab Emirates has oil reserves almost as big as Kuwait's. Despite this and despite the extreme wealth the UAE's oil has brought to the nation, the UAE is diversifying toward becoming less dependent on oil. UAE Vision 2021 sees the UAE moving toward the financial, manufacturing, and construction sectors.

#6. Kuwait

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 101.5 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 2.9 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. South Korea: 24%
--- #2. China: 20%
--- #3. Japan: 13%

Nearly 30 years ago, a U.S.-led United Nations task force liberated an Iraq-invaded Kuwait. Kuwait controls the sixth-largest oil reserves and the second-largest oil field—the Burgan field. Despite the retreating Iraqis setting fire to 600 Kuwaiti oil wells in their retreat (it is thought that Iraq attacked Kuwait to pay for its debts incurred during the Iran-Iraq War or to get back at Kuwait for reducing Iraq's petroleum revenue through Kuwait's high production), oil production has rebounded to produce 43% of the country's GDP.

#5. Iraq

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 147.2 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 4.6 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. India: 24%
--- #2. China: 22%
--- #3. United States: 17%

The fifth-largest oil reserve in the world, Iraq oil industry should be enough to rebuild the nation's infrastructure following the American occupation, ISIS occupation of its northern region, and the destruction of the second Iraq War. However, 99% of Iraq's government revenues are estimated to come from oil production, and with corruption rampant, Iraq has yet to recover. This means that the Iraqi oil industry has yet to recover.

#4. Iran

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 155.6 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 4.5 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. China: 28%
--- #2. India: 22%
--- #3. South Korea: 18%

Iran is facing renewed oil sanctions, partly due to the U.S. refusing to honor the nuclear agreement Iran previously negotiated with the Obama administration and the international community. This has forced the United States to issue oil sanction waivers to China, India, South Korea, and Turkey to meet international pressures. Since the Iranian Revolution, the country's oil production and export market have been restricted by international politics.

#3. Canada

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 167.4 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 5.3 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. United States: 98%
--- #2. Italy: 1%
--- #3. China: 0%

Canada is largely a single-client oil producer, as almost all the nation's export oil production goes to its southern neighbor, the United States. Driven by bitumen extraction from the Athabasca oil sands fields, Canada's exporting of oil to the U.S. remains a political hot potato with the expansion of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Despite this, this exporting situation is critical to the American economy, as Canada is the largest source of imported oil to the United States, at approximately 1 million barrels of oil per day.

#2. Saudi Arabia

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 266.3 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 12.4 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. Japan: 21%
--- #2. China: 17%
--- #3. United States: 15%

Controlling one-fifth of the world's oil reserves, Saudi Arabia is the leading nation in OPEC. It has been traditionally held that Saudi Arabia—more than any other nation—can influence the world's oil price, with the nation controlling the world's greatest production of petroleum. This may be leading Saudi Arabia to ignore White House's warnings about oil prices, potentially forcing a conflict between Riyadh and Washington in the future.

#1. Venezuela

- Proven crude oil reserves (2019): 302.8 billion barrels
- Crude oil production (2018): 1.5 million barrels/day

- Crude oil exports by destination (2017):
--- #1. United States: 44%
--- #2. China: 26%
--- #3. India: 24%

Another nation impacted by American oil sanctions, Venezuela has seen its oil production drop because of sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the controversy marked by Maduro's and Juan Guaido's conflicting claim to the presidency. Venezuela, a single export nation that depended on petroleum to pay for its socialist reforms, has seen massive human rights violations and runaway poverty due to the depression of its oil market. Despite this, Venezuela sits on the largest proven oil reserve in the world. This has led Venezuela to launch its own cryptocurrency to get its oil onto the world market.

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