US has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia

US has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia

A new independent estimate of world oil reserves has been released by Oslo-headquartered Rystad Energy, showing that the US now holds more recoverable oil reserves than both Saudi Arabia and Russia.

For the US, more than 50% of remaining oil reserves is unconventional shale oil. Texas alone holds more than 60bn barrels of shale oil according to this new data.

The new reserves data from Rystad Energy also distinguishes between reserves in existing fields, in new projects and potential reserves in recent discoveries and even in yet undiscovered fields. An established standard approach for estimating reserves is applied to all fields in all countries, so reserves can be compared apple to apple across the world, both for OPEC and non-OPEC countries. Other public sources of global oil reserves, like the BP Statistical Review, are based on official reporting from national authorities, reporting reserves based on a diverse and opaque set of standards.

Some OPEC countries like Venezuela report official reserves apparently including yet undiscovered oil, while others like China and Brazil officially report conservative estimates and only for existing fields.

Rystad Energy now estimates total global oil reserves at 2,092bn barrels, or 70 times the current production rate of about 30bn barrels of crude oil per year. For comparison, cumulatively produced oil up to 2015 amounts to 1,300bn barrels. Unconventional oil recovery accounts for 30% of the global recoverable oil reserves while offshore accounts for 33% of the total. The seven major oil companies hold less than 10% of the total. This data confirms that there is a relatively limited amount of recoverable oil left on the planet.

“With the global car-park possibly doubling from 1bn to 2bn cars over the next 30 years, it becomes very clear that oil alone cannot satisfy the growing need for individual transport,” the consultancy noted in a release.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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