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01 March 2024

Arab oil wealth up 29bn barrels in 2011

By Nadim Kawach

A massive revision of Iraq’s oil wealth boosted the overall Arab recoverable crude deposits by nearly 29 billion barrels at the start of 2011 but the region’s proven gas resources remain almost unchanged.

Official data showed Iraq’s extractable oil reserves were revised up by almost 28 billion barrels through 2010 after the conflict-battered country launched mega development plans in its hydrocarbon sector.

From around 115 billion barrels at the start of 2009, Iraq’s proven oil reserves were upgraded to nearly 143.1 billion barrels at the beginning of 2011.

This means Iraq probably controlled the world’s second largest oil wealth at the end of that year after Saudi Arabia.

The surge in Iraq’s oil resources boosted the combined Arab proven crude reserves to a record high of 712 billion barrels at the start of 2011 from around 683.6 billion at the start of 2010, according to the figures by the Kuwaiti-based Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC).

A breakdown showed the reserves of most other regional nations remained almost unchanged in the absence of new major hydrocarbon discoveries.

Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth remained at 264.5 billion, nearly 21.5 per cent of the total global proven crude reserves of about 1,232 billion barrels.

The reserves of Kuwait and the UAE were also unchanged at the start of 2011 at nearly 101.5 billion and 97.8 billion barrels respectively.

Qatar’s oil deposits stayed at 25.4 billion barrels while those of Libya increased slightly to nearly 47.1 billion barrels from 46.4 billion barrels.

The report showed the reserves of the other members remained intact with those of Algeria standing at 12.2 billion barrels, of Egypt at 4.5 billion barrels and those of Oman and Sudan at 5.5 billion and five billion respectively.

At the end of 2010, the total Arab oil resources accounted for 57.8 per cent of the world’s total crude reserves. It showed Kuwait held 8.24 per cent while the UAE’s reserves accounted for nearly 7.94 per cent.

Between 2006 and 2010, the Arab oil reserves gained nearly 33 billion barrels although the region pumped nearly 37 billion barrels. Experts attributed this to new discoveries in some members and the introduction of advanced exploration and production technology.

In contrast, the Arab region’s gas reserves recorded no major increase, edging up slightly to 54.6 trillion cubic metres at the end of 2010 from around 54.5 trillion cubic metres at the end of 2009, OAPEC said.

The reserves of most members were unchanged and Qatar remained the dominant gas power in the region, controlling nearly 25.2 trillion cubic metres, more than 46 per cent of the total Arab gas wealth.

Saudi Arabia was second, with around eight trillion cubic metres, followed by the UAE with nearly 6.09 trillion cubic metres, Algeria with4.5 trillion cubic metres, Iraq with 3.15 trillion cubic metres and Egypt with 2.46 trillion cubic metres. Libya and Oman had 1.49 and 0.95 trillion cubic metres respectively.

The report showed Arab countries controlled nearly 28 per cent of the world’s total proven gas deposits of around 191.8 trillion cubic metres.

As for production, the report showed there was a sharp rise to around 458 billion cubic metres during 2010 from 435 billion barrels in 2009 mainly due to a rise in Qatar’s gas output to 96.3 billion from 89.3 billon cubic metres.

The UAE’s gas output also swelled to 51.3 billion from 48.8 billion while there was an increase to 87.7 billion from 78.5 billion in Saudi Arabia and to around 83.9 billion from 81.4 billion in Algeria.

The Arab gas exports soared to a record high of 200 billion cubic metres during 2010 from 168 billion cubic metres in 2009 due to a sharp rise in Qatar’s LNG supplies to 94.9 billion cubic metres from 68.1 billion cubic metres following the completion of mega gas projects that turned the Gulf country into the world’s largest LNG exporter.

Exports by the UAE grew to 7.9 billion cubic metres from seven billion cubic metres and those by Algeria to 55.7 billion barrels from 52.6 billion barrels. Oman’s gas exports remained almost unchanged at around 11.5 billion cubic metres while Egypt’s exports fell to 15.17 billion from 18.32 billion.