Crude oil global reserves 1990-2019

Between 1990 and 2011, the volume of global oil reserves increased significantly from just over 1 billion barrels in 1990 to nearly 1.7 billion. Since then, the quantity of oil reserves worldwide has remained roughly the same, with a slight increase in recent years.

Regional distribution of oil reserves

As the volume of global oil reserves increased, the regional balance of proved oil reserves also shifted. In the 1990s and early 2000s, more than half of proved reserves worldwide were in the Middle East. Since 2012, Latin America has reported nearly a fifth of the total distribution. Meanwhile, share of oil reserves in the Middle East as well as North America had declined by 2012 and remained at roughly the same rates in recent years.

Venezuela’s oil boom

High increases in proved oil reserves in Central and South America predominantly came from Venezuela, and impacted regional distribution worldwide. The country’s proven oil reserves drastically increased when the energy and oil ministry certified vast quantities of oil sands in the Faja del Orinoco region, known as the Orinoco Belt. In 2011, Venezuela overtook Saudi Arabia as the country with the highest share of proven oil reserves in the world.

Volume of global oil reserves from 1990 to 2019

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Release date

June 2020



Survey time period

1990 to 2019

Supplementary notes

Proved reserves of oil – generally taken to be those quantities that geological and engineering information indicates with reasonable certainty can be recovered in the future from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions.
The estimates in this table have been compiled using a combination of primary official sources, third-party data from the OPEC Secretariat, World Oil, Oil & Gas Journal, and an independent estimate of Russian and Chinese reserves based on information in the public domain. Canadian oil sands ‘under active development’ are an official estimate. Venezuelan Orinoco Belt reserves are based on the OPEC Secretariat and government announcements. Reserves include gas condensate and natural gas liquids (NGLs) as well as crude oil.
Figures for years not included in the pdf version were taken from the Data workbook of the Statistical Review.

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