OAPEC Report: UAE has 8.3 % of world’s oil, 3.3 % of gas reserves

Oct 30, 2010 12:00 AM

Arab oil reserves have swelled by more than 34 bn barrels over the past nine years while gas deposits jumped by over 17 tcm despite high production by regional states, according to official data.

The UAE emerged as one of the largest hydrocarbon powers in the world, controlling nearly 8.3 % of the recoverable global oil resources and around 3.3 % of the world’s gas wealth, showed the figures by the 10-nation Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC).

From around 646.8 bn barrels at the end of 2000, the combined Arab extractable oil reserves grew to about 681 bn barrels at the end of 2009, an increase of nearly 34.2 bn barrels, the Kuwaiti-based group said in a study.

Most regional nations recorded increases in their proven oil resources despite massive cumulative output, which was estimated at around 65 bn barrels. Despite the surge in reserves, the share of the Arab oil resources to the world’s total crude deposits dropped from around 61.3 % in 2000 to nearly 57.8 % at the end of 2009, said OAPEC, a key Arab League institution. It attributed the decline to a sharp rise in proven global oil reserves to around 1,178 bn barrels from 1,055 bn barrels mainly due to the increase in Canada’s oil sand deposits and new discoveries in other countries.

The report showed that at the end of 2009, Saudi Arabia controlled around 22.4 % of the world’s oil deposits while Iraq accounted for 9.8 %, Kuwait for nearly 8.6 % and the UAE for 8.3 %. Saudi Arabia also controlled nearly 38.8 % of the total Arab oil reserves while Iraq accounted for 16.9 %, Kuwait for 14.9 % and the UAE for 14.4 %.

This means the four Gulf states controlled nearly 85 % of the Arab world’s total proven crude resources at the end of 2009.

The study showed gas reserves in the Arab world jumped by around 17.2 tcm to a record 54.1 tcm at the end of 2009 from around 36.9 tcm at the end of 2000. The increase boosted the Arab share of the world’s proven gas resources to around 28.9 % at the end of last year from 24.4 % in 2000.

A breakdown showed Qatar was the main gas power in the region, controlling nearly 13.6 % of the world’s total gas deposits and 47 % of the combined Arab gas wealth. Qatar’s gas deposits are concentrated in its gigantic offshore North Field, the largest single reservoir of non-associated gas in the world, with an estimated 25 tcm. Saudi Arabia had the second largest gas deposits in the Arab world at the end of 2009, with around four % of the world’s gas wealth and 13.8 % of the Arab gas reserves. It was followed by the UAE, which controlled nearly 3.3 % of the world’s gas and 11.3 % of the gas deposits in the Arab region.

OAPEC estimated the cumulative Arab oil production at a staggering 302 bn barrels since regional nations began pumping crude over 50 years ago. It said the Arab oil deposits in place could be far higher than assumed. “Assuming an extraction rate of 35 %, the Arab oil deposits in place could reach 2,738 bn barrels. This means the oil quantities that cannot be extracted by present technology are around 1,809 bn barrels, which are nearly 645 bn barrels above the world’s proven oil resources… . These quantities, if they can be extracted, will meet the world needs for 60 years …even if only 10 % of them could be extracted, they could be enough for seven years.”

The report showed four Gulf countries -- UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq -- controlled around 50 % of  the world’s recoverable oil potential and more than 86 % of the actual Arab crude reserves. But it noted large quantities of oil and gas remained undiscovered or undeveloped in the region, totalling around 175 bn barrels of oil, 43,368 bn cm of natural gas and 67 bn barrels of gas liquids.

In the UAE, the undiscovered hydrocarbon reserves were put at around 7.7 bn barrels of crude oil, 1,261 bn cm of natural gas and 2.4 bn of gas liquids. They were estimated at 87.1 bn barrels of oil in Saudi Arabia, 18,158 bn cm of gas and 48.9 bn barrels of gas liquidity. In Kuwait, undiscovered reserves were estimated at about 3.8 bn barrels of crude, 194 bn cm of gas and around 0.2 bn barrels of gas liquids. In Iraq, they were put at 54.1 bn barrels of oil, 9,000 bn cm of gas and around 6.2 bn barrels of gas liquids.

The figures also showed the UAE’s oil and gas resources accounted for 14.6 and 11.3 % of the total Arab oil and gas deposits while Saudi Arabia, the world’s dominant oil power, controlled 39.3 and 13.6 % respectively. Qatar controlled 46.9 % of the Arab gas reserves.

The report showed the increase in oil reserves over the past few years was a result of new discoveries in some member states, development of major fields and introduction of advanced technology. Most of the increase was achieved in Sudan, where they jumped from less than one bn barrels to five bn barrels. The rest came from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Libya, which boosted them by around two bn barrels each. Gas reserves grew by around 1.7 tcm and the bulk of the increase was achieved in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the report said.

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