Gulf's global oil share sharply down in 20 years

Oct 24, 2013 12:00 AM

Gulf countries now control around 42 per cent of the world's total proven oil resources, sharply below their share of nearly 63 per cent 20 years ago.


The decline was mainly due to a steep rise in the crude reserves of Canada and Venezuela although there was a large increase in the oil resources of Iraq and Iran.

Statistics by British Petroleum showed the combined recoverable oil reserves of Gulf countries grew from nearly 656 billion barrels in 1992 to about 700 billion barrels at the end of 2012, a modest increase of 44 billion barrels.

That increase is dwarfed by the rise in the world's oil deposits, which surged from around 1,039 billion barrels in 1992 to 1,668.9 billion barrels at the end of 2012.

The increase meant that the Gulf countries controlled nearly 42 per cent of the world's total extractable oil reserves at the end of 2012 compared with 63 per cent in 1992.

A large part of the increase in world's oil wealth was in the reserves of Canada as they jumped from around 39 billion barrels to 173.9 billion barrels, mostly in oil sand.

Venezuela's reserves also soared from around 63 billion barrels at the end of 1992 to 297.6 billion barrels at the end of 2012 to turn the Latin American country into the largest oil power by overtaking Saudi Arabia.

But the reserves of two Gulf states also recorded a sharp rise, with those of Iran swelling from around 93 billion barrels to 157 billion barrels. Iraq's proven oil deposits also surged from about 100 billion to 150 billion barrels in the same period.

The oil resources of other Gulf nations recorded only small increases, with those of Saudi Arabia rising from 261 billion to 265 billion barrels. Kuwait's oil wealth also increased slightly from 96 billion to 101 billion while that of the UAE remained almost unchanged at nearly 98 billion barrels. Qatar's reserves leaped from 3.1 billion to 24 billion but they remained a fraction of the oil wealth of its giant neighbors.

As for gas, the BP report showed Gulf states controlled around 41 trillion cubic metres of natural gas at the end of 2012, nearly 41 per cent of the world's total proven gas wealth of about 187 trillion cm.

A breakdown showed Iran has the world's second largest gas wealth after Russia, standing at around 33.6 trillion cm. Qatar came third with about 25.1 trillion cm, followed by Saudi Arabia with 8.2 trillion cm and the UAE with 6.1 trillion cm.

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