The World’s Biggest State-Owned Oil Companies

Government-controlled companies dominate the ranks of the world's largest energy producers. In fact, based on revenues for 2019, the top three biggest energy-producing companies are state-owned enterprises controlled by national governments.

Many of the biggest state-owned oil companies operate in the Middle East, a region long synonymous with state control of energy resources. Other state-owned oil giants are in Russia and China, as well as Latin America and Africa.

Key Takeaways

  • The largest oil companies in the world by revenue are state-owned.
  • The majority of state-owned oil companies are located in the Middle East, China, Russia, and South America.
  • The highest revenue-producing state-owned oil company in 2019 was China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec).

Saudi Aramco

The Saudi Arabian Oil Company, also known as Saudi Aramco, is one of the world's largest oil companies, generating $294.9 billion in revenue in 2019, producing an average of 13.2 million barrels of oil per day. Saudi Aramco is overseen by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and the Supreme Council for Petroleum and Minerals.


Rosneft is Russia's biggest integrated oil and gas company, generating $111.9 billion in revenue during 2019. As of 2019, it was producing 5.8 million barrels of oil per day. The majority of its oil production takes place in Russia, but the company also has ongoing exploration and production activities in Canada, Vietnam, Norway, and Brazil, among other countries.

Prior to its initial public offering (IPO) in 2006, all of Rosneft's shares were owned by the Russian government through its holding company JSC Rosneftegaz, and as of 2019, the government maintains control of 50% of the company's stock.

National Iranian Oil Company

The National Iranian Oil Company is responsible for all upstream operations in the oil and natural gas sectors. The company is wholly owned by the state and operates under the direction of Iran's Supreme Leadership Council.

Average production in 2019 was 2.4 million barrels of oil per day. It's seen depressed production caused primarily by international economic sanctions related to Iran's nuclear weapons program.

China National Petroleum Corporation

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is a state-owned oil and gas company with operations around the world. In 2019, the company generated $376 billion in revenue. Much of CNPC's oil operations are organized under its subsidiary, PetroChina.

Kuwait Petroleum Corporation

The state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) is responsible for carrying out Kuwait's oil policy as set by the country's Ministry of Petroleum and Supreme Petroleum Council. KPC and its network of subsidiary companies control all upstream and downstream oil operations in the country. The company generated $30 billion in revenue for the fiscal year ending in March 2019 (latest reported figures).

Petroleos de Venezuela

Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) has dominated oil and gas production in Venezuela since the industry was nationalized in 1976. It controls the world's largest proven reserves of oil. In 2016, the company was producing about 2.5 million barrels per day, but by April 2019, it had dropped to 830,000 barrels.

More than a dozen international oil and gas companies maintain exploration and production operations in Venezuela under investment agreements with PDVSA.

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is the biggest oil operator in Africa, reporting production of about 1.65 million barrels per day in 2019. The state-owned company and its subsidiaries regulate the Nigerian oil and natural gas industries and oversee upstream and downstream operational development. International oil companies work with NNPC under joint venture agreements and production-sharing contracts.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec)

Sinopec Ltd is part of Sinopec Group, the world's largest oil conglomerate in the world, located in Beijing China. Sinopec Ltd is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and in 2019 it generated $443 billion in revenues, making it the highest revenue-producing state-owned oil company.

Sinopec does extensive business in Africa but also owns stakes in oil companies in other regions and countries, such as Egypt and Brazil.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Saudi Aramco. "Saudi Aramco Reports Strong 2019 Results Despite Difficult Macro Environment." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  2. Saudi Aramco. "This Is Energy. This Is Aramco," Page 9. Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  3. OpenEI. "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  4. Rosneft. "Financial Results for 4Q and 12М 2019." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  5. Rosneft. "Igor Sechin Reports to the President of the Russian Federation on the Company’s 2019 Operating Results and Prospects of Vostok Oil Project." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  6. Rosneft. "Annual Report 2019," Page 6. Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  7. Rosneft. "Annual Report 2019," Page 248. Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  8. Rosneft. "Annual Report 2006," Page 80. Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  9. Energy Information Administration. "Background Reference: Iran." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  10. OPEC. "Iran Facts and Figures." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  11. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Form 20-F: PetroChina Company Limited." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  12. Chinese National Petroleum Corporation. "2019 Annual Report," Page 4. Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  13. Kuwait Petroleum Corporation. "Annual Report 2018/2019" Accessed Oct. 23, 2020.

  14. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Form 20-F: Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.," Page 77. Accessed October 8, 2020.

  15. OPEC. "Data Download: Table 3.1: World Proven Crude Oil Reserves by Country." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  16. Energy Information Administration. "Venezuelan Crude Oil Production Falls to Lowest Level Since January 2003." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  17. Energy Information Administration. "Nigeria." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  18. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. "Joint Venture Activi​ties." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  19. China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation. "2019 Annual Results Announcement" Accessed Oct. 23, 2020.