Oil - distribution of proved reserves worldwide 2018

The Middle East has the highest distribution of proved oil reserves of any region in the world, followed by Central and South America. The Middle East and South America are home to the two countries with the highest proven oil reserves worldwide: Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

The regional distribution shifts

In the past three decades, the Middle East’s share of global oil reserves had dropped from over 60 percent in 1992 to 48.3 percent in 2018. This was mainly due to greater reserves discovered in the Americas. By 2012, Central and South America’s share had more than doubled and has remained just under 20 percent in the years since.

Oil reserves in Venezuela

Venezuela and Saudi Arabia are among the founding members of OPEC, an organization currently comprised of 14 nations that produce just over 40 percent of total crude oil globally. In 2009, Venezuela confirmed significant oil discoveries, and in the span of just a few years, Central and South American proved oil reserves rose from less than 20 to just over 50 billion metric tons. Venezuela announced in 2011 that its proven oil reserves had surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest in the world.

Distribution of proved oil reserves worldwide from 1992 to 2018, by region

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Release date

June 2019



Survey time period

1992 to 2018

Supplementary notes

Reserves include gas condensate and natural gas liquids (NGLs) as well as crude oil.
Editions of the report prior to 2018 named the region as Europe and Eurasia, whereas the 2018 edition of the report listed Europe and CIS separately. The 2018 figures for these two regions have therefore have been added together. CIS is an abbreviation for the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Figures prior to 2016 are taken from previous editions of BP's statistical reviews.

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