Even as many attempts are made to develop alternative sources of energy, the importance of oil is unquestionable. It is a revenue generator for countries that are lucky enough to have oil reserves and produce more than their domestic consumption. On the other hand, it is an equally big drain for those economies that are heavily dependent on imports. The world keenly pays attention to big changes in the oil markets triggered by events like unrest in oil regions, breakthroughs in finding new oil fields or development in extraction technology.

Let’s take a look at the top oil producing countries in the world. The total oil production includes production of crude oil (including lease condensate), natural gas plant liquids, and other liquids, and refinery processing gain (loss). It is expressed in barrels per day (bbl/d).

Total Oil Production 2013 (million bbl/d)

Country

Production

As % of Total

United States

12.31

13.67%

Saudi Arabia

11.59

12.87%

Russia

10.53

11.70%

China

4.46

4.95%

Canada

4.07

4.52%

United Arab Emirates

3.23

3.59%

Iran

3.19

3.54%

Iraq

3.06

3.40%

Mexico

2.91

3.23%

Kuwait

2.81

3.12%

Source: EIA

United States

The United States surpassed Saudi Arabia to emerge as the top oil producing country in 2013 with an average of 12.3 million bbl/d which is a whopping 13.67% of the oil produced daily across the world. During the years 2009-2011, the U.S. was at the third spot after Russia and Saudi Arabia, who tussled for the top spot. During 2012, the U.S. overtook Russia to be at the second place trailing behind Saudi Arabia. Much of the increased production can be owed to the shale formations at Texas and North Dakota have witnessed soaring oil extraction with the use of fracking techniques. Texas and North Dakota, California, Alaska and Oklahoma are considered the top five oil producing states in the U.S. The share of the U.S. in the world’s total oil production is reflected in the table below. The U.S. oil production share has gradually moved up over the years averaging at 11.88% during 2009-2013.

Share of U.S. in Total Oil Production

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

10.75%

11.06%

11.54%

12.39%

13.67%

Source: EIA

Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the also the kingdom of oil production, contributing at an average of 12.5% of the world’s oil production (2009-2013). It lagged behind U.S. in 2013 with an average of 11.6 million bbl/d (against 12.3 million bbl/d). Saudi Arabia was at the second spot in 2009, moving up to be the leader for three consecutive years (2010-2012) before sliding back to the second place in 2013. The economy of Saudi Arabia is heavily dependent on oil, which accounted for 85% of revenue in 2013 according to OPEC’s Annual Statistical Bulletin 2014. The major oil fields in Saudi Arabia are Ghawar, Safaniya, Khurais, Manifa, Shaybah, Qatif, Khursaniyah, Zuluf and Abqaiq.

Share of Saudi Arabia in Total Oil Production

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

11.56%

12.16%

12.82%

13.07%

12.87%

Source: EIA

Russia

Russia may not have retained the top spot but it remains one of the top oil producers, with an average of 10.5 million bbl/d in 2013. During the five year period 2009-2013, it has lost its ranking from being the leader in 2009 to be number two in 2010 and 2011, further down to the number three position in 2012 and 2013. The main regions of oil production in Russia are Western Siberia, Urals-Volga, Krasnoyarsk, Sakhalin, Komi Republic, Arkhangelsk, Irkutsk and Yakutiya. Most of the production originates from the Priobskoye and Samotlor fields in Western Siberia. The oil industry in Russia was initially privatized after the fall of the Soviet Union, though after a few years the companies were reverted back to state control. The prominent companies engaged in oil production in Russia are Rosneft, Lukoil, TNK-BP, Surgutneftegaz, Gazprom Neft and Tatneft.

Share of Russia in Total Oil Production

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

11.69%

11.60%

11.66%

11.595

11.70%

Source: EIA

China

China, like the U.S., consumes more oil than it produces, making it a net importer. However; it is the fourth largest producer (2010-2013) with an average production of 4.5 million bbl/d. Most of the Chinese production capacity is onshore (81%) with the remaining 19% coming from shallow offshore reserves. The northeast and north central region of the country are considered the backbone of domestic production. These regions have mature fields like Daqing, which have been exploited since the 1960’s. The production from mature fields has peaked and companies are investing in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques such as polymer flooding and water injection, to counterbalance the oil declines and keep the production intact. China is also working on new offshore options and newer discoveries in addition to EOR to enhance its production.

Share of China in Total Oil Production

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

4.79%

4.98%

4.95%

4.87%

4.95%

Source: EIA

Canada

Canada is placed at the fifth spot with a production of 4.1 million bbl/d during 2013. The Canadian production could grow to 6.6 million bbl/d by 2035 due to an expansion of unconventional output from the oil sands according to the EIA International Energy Outlook 2014. Such fields are more costly to operate on. However, with technological advancements, these reserves will be well capitalized. Currently, the main sources of oil production are the oil sands of Alberta, Atlantic offshore fields and WCSB (Western Canada Sedimentary Basin). The oil sector in Canada is privatized with many foreign and domestic companies.

Share of Canada in Total Oil Production

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

3.91%

3.93%

4.10%

4.30%

4.52%

Source: EIA

Bottom Line

The world's total oil production has grown over the years and is now at 90 million bbl/d. 65% of this daily requirement is met by the top ten oil producing countries while 47% of the daily production is met by the top five players. Saudi Arabia, U.S. and Russia are the undisputed leaders in oil production, collectively contributing to approximately 38% of the world’s production (2013) and averaging at 36% over the five year period.

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

World Total Oil Production

84.95

87.52

87.83

89.70

90.06

Source: EIA

With the ever increasing demand for oil, much research is under-way to develop new techniques to extract the most of the explored oil fields while also looking out for new ones. The level of oil production cannot be taken as the level of reserves a country has, since many such reserves have not yet started operations. Oil reserves give an estimate of the potential while oil production is factual.

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