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Oil industry in the Middle East - statistics & facts

A third of the world’s oil is produced in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar belong to the world’s top suppliers of fossil fuel. A paleogeographic explanation on why the world’s largest oil reserves can be found in the Middle East is, according to latest scientific understanding, the result of the earth’s geodynamic development. Today’s Middle East is known for its desert and plain outlook; however, this was not always the case. According to the widely acknowledged theory, today’s Arabian Peninsula was over hundred million years ago the location of the Tethys Ocean which fed several rivers and was rich with nutrients and microorganisms. Over time, the tectonic movement of the earth caused the ocean to dry out and layers to form on top of the former ocean, which then compressed its organic remains and is now harvested as fossil fuel.

The majority of Middle Eastern oil producing states are united withing the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which coordinated petroleum extraction quotas as well as oil pricing of its members. About 39 percent of today’s crude oil is produced by OPEC countries, with its founding member Saudi Arabia being the largest producer, producing over 12.2 million barrels per day.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia also leads the Middle East in its crude oil distillation capacities with almost three million barrels per day. This is mainly carried out by the state-owned company Saudi Aramco. 2020, Saudi Aramco is one of the world’s most valuable companies with assets worth over 510 billion U.S. dollars.

Although the Middle East is the world’s leading energy exporter, exporting over 1.36 billion tons of oil equivalent, its countries are desperate to diversify its economies and end their dependence on oil. This is due to the global demand for fossil fuel having become quite volatile and is also prone to geopolitical and social events. The current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic illustrates quite strongly how the economies of the Middle East are affected by the drop of the global oil demand, as well as the subsequent fall of oil prices in the global market.


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