Crude oil, or petroleum, exists as a liquid of hydrocarbons in natural underground reservoirs, and is mainly used as transport fuel.  The quantity of crude oil and natural gas liquids proven to exist in known reservoirs and that can be extracted economically is reported to be 1,239 billion barrels, or 163,068 million tonnes. The majority of these resources are within the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq having the greatest numbers of proven reserves respectively.

Natural bitumen and extra-heavy oil are higher-viscosity and contain more by-products than conventional crude oil. As a result of this, natural bitumen and extra-heavy oil have higher extraction, transportation and refining costs, making crude oil often the most cost-effective choice. Natural bitumen is mainly found in Alberta, Canada, where the oil sands reserves account for 69% of the estimated global total, while extra-heavy oil is mainly found in Venezuela, where it is estimated that 98% of the total global reserves are situated.

Oil shale is a sedimentary rock containing organic matter, named ‘kerogen’, from which shale oil and combustible gas can be extracted. It is a massive yet mostly untouched resource, and it is estimated that there are nearly 5 trillion barrels of oil shale worldwide, particularly in the USA, Brazil, the Russian Federation, Estonia, China, Jordan and Morocco. However, owing to the comparatively higher costs of mining shale oil over crude oil, these resources have barely been touched.

The “R/P ratio”, often referred to in oil production data, is the resources-to-production ratio. It is measured in years and is the time it will take for the known reserves of oil to be completely depleted at the current rate of production.

All data represented in the graphs and charts on this website represents crude oil only.

Global Oil recoverable reserves

Proved amount in place233billion tonnes

Oil recoverable reserves by region

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Top oil producing countries

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Oil recoverable reserves by region

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Note

Oil data represents Crude Oil only, for extra-heavy oil and oil shale please refer to the WER 2013 report oil chapter.