Oil is the third largest exported product in the world, by revenue. In 2020, crude petroleum accounted for 3.82% of global trade.
Crude oil is unrefined petroleum that's used to manufacture many products, including gasoline, heating fuel, and plastics. As of 2020, global oil production reached 4.2 billion metric tons.
Historically, Saudi Arabia has led the world in annual oil exports, but that changed in 2019 when the United Arab Emirates overtook it as the world's biggest oil exporter. In 2020, Saudi Arabia recaptured the top spot. The United States has also increased its share of global oil exports, accounting for 8.17% of exports in 2020, up from 5.71% in 2019.
This article looks at the top 10 oil-exporting countries in the world. Together, these 10 countries accounted for nearly three-quarters of global oil exports in 2019.
- Oil was the leading export product in the world as of 2019, accounting for 5.44% of global trade.
- In 2020, it became the third biggest export worldwide, accounting for 3.82% of global trade.
- The United Arab Emirates surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil exporter in 2019.
- Saudi Arabia recaptured the top spot, based on 2020 figures.
- Mexico fell out of the top 10 as of 2020, replaced by Kazakhstan as the ninth-largest exporter.
1. Saudi Arabia
This Middle Eastern oil powerhouse was the world's top oil exporter until that position was taken over by the United Arab Emirates in 2019. However, Saudi Arabia recaptured the top spot with $95.7 billion in oil exports in 2020. That represents 15% of global oil exports. It also remains the top oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), producing close to 12 million barrels of oil per day, or about 15% of global output in 2020.
Saudi Arabia possesses approximately 15% of the world's oil reserves. As such, the industry accounts for as much as 70% of the country's exports and more than half of government revenue.
Oil Heats Up
Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 sent the price of oil soaring to over $110 per barrel.
Russia takes the second spot. In 2020, it accounted for 11.6% of global exports, totaling $74.4 billion. Production reached an annual average of 10.5 million barrels per day, produced by major names like Rosneft, Surgutneftegas, and Gazprom. This accounts for 11% of global oil production.
The European market is highly reliant on Russian oil exports, as is the Russian oil industry on European imports. In 2020, 48% of oil exports went to Europe. And between 2011 and 2020, oil and natural gas made up about 43% of government revenue in Russia.
In 2014, the U.S. and European Union (EU) slapped economic sanctions on Russia after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine. As a result, Russian energy companies are prohibited from accessing capital markets in these regions. Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 compelled the U.S. to adopt even more severe sanctions, including a ban on imports of Russian oil.
3. United States
The United States is the third-largest oil exporter. It exported $52.3 billion worth of oil in 2020, comprising 8.17% of global exports. The country significantly increased its oil output between 2011 and 2020. In 2020, the U.S. produced 18.61 million barrels of oil per day, about 20% of the global total.
Canada is the world's fourth-largest exporter of oil. The $47.2 billion worth of oil it exported in 2020 comprised 7.37% of the global total. Its known oil reserves of 167 billion barrels are the third-largest in the world. The bulk of those reserves is located in Alberta's oil sands.
As is often the case, Canada's oil industry is closely connected to the U.S. economy. In 2018, 96% of Canadian oil exports went to the United States, and Canadian oil accounted for 48% of all U.S. oil imports.
The all-time high price reached by crude oil in July 2008.
Iraq was the world's second-largest exporter of oil as recently as 2016 but sits in fifth place in 2020, with $45.2 billion in revenue and exporting 7.06% of all oil exports that year. It is the second-largest producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia.
Iraq has the fifth-largest oil reserves in the world, but according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the majority of those reserves are already tapped or being developed. Iraq also faces the challenge of being over-reliant on oil revenues, which accounted for an estimated 91% of government revenues in 2018.
6. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The United Arab Emirates, a small country approximately the size of South Carolina, exported $176 billion worth of oil in 2019, accounting for 16.13% of global oil exports. Despite being the largest oil exporter in 2019, it fell to sixth-place in 2020 with $42 billion in revenue and 6.57% of all oil exports. The UAE produced 3.78 million barrels per day in 2020, accounting for 4% of global output.
The UAE is estimated to have the seventh-largest oil reserves in the world, totaling approximately 100 billion barrels. The country's economy is less dependent on oil than it once was, though oil and gas output still accounts for about 30% of GDP.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, was the world's seventh-largest exporter of oil in 2020. The country exported $30 billion worth of oil, about 4.68% of the global total. Nigeria has the second-largest proved oil reserves on the continent. Most of its 37 billion barrels of reserves are located along the Niger River Delta and offshore in the Gulf of Guinea, Bight of Benin, and Bight of Bonny.
Nigeria enjoys a relatively diverse crowd of clients who import its oil. In 2018, 20% of Nigerian exports went to India, 11% to Spain, 10% to the Netherlands, and 10% to the United States. The Nigerian government's revenue streams, on the other hand, are much less diverse. The government's non-oil revenue accounts for only 3.4% of GDP.
Given its small size, it is impressive that Kuwait is on the list of the world's top oil exporters. The country is located in the Arabian peninsula and is about the size of Connecticut.
Kuwait accounted for 4.32% of global oil exports in 2020, shipping $27.6 billion worth of oil that year. Kuwait produced about 2.75 million barrels of oil per day in 2020, making it the world's tenth-largest producer. The country's reserves are the sixth-largest in the world.
Supply and demand are the most common variables that affect the price of crude oil.
Kazakhstan was the ninth-largest oil exporter in 2020. Its exports, worth $25.2 billion, accounted for 3.94% of the global total. According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Kazakhstan had a 30 billion barrel reserve in 2018. This placed it in twelfth place in the world for reserves, just behind the U.S.
Kazakhstan's oil production comes from two onshore fields in the country's northwest region and from one in the Caspian Sea.
Norway exported $22.6 billion worth of oil in 2020, accounting for 3.53% of the global oil trade. This makes it the tenth-largest oil exporter in the world.
Norway has the largest oil reserves in Western Europe and sends the vast majority of its oil to its European neighbors. Though production has slowed steadily over the course of the 21st century, the oil industry still accounts for 50% of Norwegian exports and over 20% of GDP.
Who Is the Largest Oil Producer in the World?
The world's largest producer of oil is the United States, accounting for roughly 20% of oil production. The country took the number one spot from Russia in 2018, thanks to shale production and energy independence policies.
On Average, How Many Billion Barrels of Oil per Day Does the U.S. Export?
The United States exports roughly 8.51 million barrels of oil per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
What Percentage of the Global Gross Domestic Product Does Oil Account for?
According to World Bank figures, oil accounts for roughly 1.3% of the world's gross domestic product, as of the most recent figures from 2019.