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16 April 2024

World crude reserves increase by 54bn barrels in three years

By Nadim Kawach

The world’s proven oil reserves have swelled by nearly 54 billion barrels over the past three years although more than 87 billion barrels have been pumped out of the ground during that period, according to official data from the United States.


About 15 billion barrels of the increase have come from Arab countries while Iran accounted for nearly 13 billion barrels, show figures by the Energy Information Agency (EIA) of the US Department of Energy.


Saudi Arabia remained the world’s dominant oil power while the UAE retained its position as having the fifth largest recoverable oil resources in the world.


From about 1.277 trillion barrels at the start of 2005, the world’s total extractable crude oil deposits grew to nearly 1.331 trillion barrels at the beginning of 2008, EIA said in its 2008 World Energy Outlook report.


Most of the increase came from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Sudan, Russia, Venezuela and Angola while there were declines in China, Mexico, the United States, Yemen and countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.


Saudi Arabia’s reserves peaked at 266.7 billion barrels at the start of this year compared with 261.9 billion barrels at the start of 2005.


Kuwait’s reserves swelled to a record 104.5 billion barrels from 101.5 billion barrels while Iran’s oil deposits soared to 138.4 billion barrels from about 125.8 billion barrels to maintain its position as the second oil power after Saudi Arabia.


The UAE’s oil remained unchanged at around 97.8 billion barrels to retain its position as the fifth oil power but the country has pumped in excess of 2.7 billion barrels during that period.


War-battered Iraq remained in control of the third largest oil reserves, which maintained their level at 115 billion barrels at the start of this year.


Libya, another major oil producer, gained more than two billion barrels to reach 41.4 billion barrels at the beginning of 2008 compared to 39 billion barrels at the beginning of 2005.


Sudan’s reserves also jumped to nearly five billion barrels from 562 million barrels following major discoveries by foreign companies operating there.


Russia, which controls the world’s largest gas wealth, gained 10 billion barrels in crude resources to reach 60 billion barrels at the start of this year.


Kazakhstan, another former Soviet republic, recorded the largest reserve increase in the world to nearly 30 billion from nine billion barrels.


The increase of 21 billion barrels accounted for 38 per cent of the total global reserve growth.


The report showed that Venezuela, a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and the largest oil supplier to the United States, recorded a large increase of nearly 10 billion barrels to reach 87 billion barrels.


The reserves of Angola surged to nearly nine billion barrels from 5.4 billion barrels.

In contrast, there were reserve declines in many countries, with those of China dipping to about 16 billion barrels from 18.2 billion barrels.


The most populous nation on Earth is recording the highest growth rates in crude oil consumption and is becoming a net oil importer.


Mexico’s reserves also fell to 11.6 billion barrels from 14.6 billion barrels while those of Yemen lost nearly one billion barrels to reach three billion barrels.


The United States, the world’s largest oil consumer, lost nearly half a billion barrels to 20.9 billion from about 21.37 billion barrels during the three-year period.


According to the EIA, Canada’s oil resources remained almost unchanged at about 178 billion barrels, but most of them are undeveloped oil sands in Alberta.


The report showed the Middle East region controlled about 748 billion barrels on January 1, accounting for 56 per cent of the world’s total proven oil wealth.


The so-called Big Five in the Gulf – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Iran – controlled 722.4 billion barrels or about 54.2 per cent of the world’s total.