Largest Oil-Producing Country in the World: What You Need to Know

Decoding the Top Ten Oil-Producing Countries in the World: An In-depth Look at the World's Oil Titans

Global oil production is an intriguing tale packed with intrigue, competition, and unpredictable shifts. In this unfolding narrative, dominated by industry stalwarts and emerging challengers alike, one question seems to echo - which countries produce the most oil constantly? Well, consider this your go-to guide as we explore the top oil producers who are shaping the oil industry around the globe.


Key Highlights

  • The US has often been named a 'swing producer' due to its fluctuating output that aligns with market prices.

  • Saudi Arabia joining OPEC and cutting oil output between 2020 and 2023. As a result, bilateral relations worsened in 2022. 

  • China's booming economy and considerable population have led to a spike in overall energy demand.

The Global Stage: A Backdrop of Recent Events

Before we detail the largest oil-producing countries in the world, it's crucial to shed light on some recent, influential events that have reshaped the global oil landscape. Among them, the COVID-19 pandemic's disruption, a fierce price war between oil-producing nations, and the aftermath of Russia's war in Ukraine hold prominent positions. All these dramatic scenarios have undeniably influenced the trajectory of the world's oil production operations. Let's explore how.

A Fractured Oil Landscape

  • In 2020, the output control deal that held sway between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and 11 of the world's top oil producers expired. In its wake, Russia's decision not to approve further cuts proposed by Saudi Arabia gave birth to a domino effect.

  • Saudi Arabia, the de facto OPEC head, flooded the oversupplied market with drastically discounted oil in retribution, sending oil prices down and shaking the global oil sector.

  • Pressure from the US led to a ceasefire between the two oil giants. This caused the most significant output decline ever, 9.7 million barrels per day.

Oil's Soaring Highs and Crumbling Lows

As 2021 witnessed the easing of COVID-19 restrictions worldwide, the once-tumbled oil market began to stir. Demand picked up, oil prices started to climb, and the wheels of the global oil machinery began turning again.

However, the tides turned with the onset of Russia's aggressive war against Ukraine in 2022, which caused oil prices to skyrocket. The further slowdown in economic activity, spurred by rising interest rates and looming recession fears, placed additional pressure on oil prices in 2023. As a form of damage control, OPEC members concluded a staggering cut in oil output in July of that year. They agreed to extend a broader deal to limit supplies until 2024.

Waves in the Oil Sea: The Modern Scenario

Fast forward to the present. The Israel-Hamas war outbreak continues to keep oil market viewers on their toes, scanning for signs of whether the conflict may spread into the oil-producing nations in the Middle East. However, these concerns have been overshadowed by slowing demand from China and the potential comeback of Venezuelan oil production into the market.

Given this cocktail of recent global events, let's now turn our focus to the crux of the matter- the top 10 oil-producing countries for the year 2022. We'll derive our data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and include the total production of petroleum and other liquids.

Top 10 Oil Producing Countries: A Deep Dive

1. United States of America: The Undisputed Titan

Production: 20,213,000 bpd

Dominating the charts as the top oil producer, the US saw an impressive output increase of 1,232,000 bpd (barrel per day) from 2021, registering a colossal 20,213,000 bpd (barrel per day) in 2022. The US has often been named a 'swing producer' due to its fluctuating output that aligns with market prices.

Texas leads the country in oil production, virtually quadrupling New Mexico. The United States is one of the major oil consumers while controlling world oil production. US petroleum usage averaged 19.1 million barrels per day in 2022.

2. Saudi Arabia: The Embodiment of Oil Wealth

Production: 12,144,000 bpd

Saudi Arabia produces the most crude oil worldwide. There may be 17% of global oil reserves. Oil and gas make up about half the GDP and 85% of exports. Saudi Arabia joining OPEC and cutting oil output between 2020 and 2023. As a result, bilateral relations worsened in 2022. 

Consequently, the country refused to increase production to balance skyrocketing gasoline prices. Currently, in an effort to stabilize its economy, Saudi Arabia has chosen to slice its production by 1 million bpd starting in July.

3. Russia: Persisting Amidst Troubled Waters

Production: 10,938,000 bpd

Despite being forced to restrict its oil production in 2020, Russia produced 10,938,000 barrels per day on average in 2022. Urals and Volga oil fields are Russia's most productive. Russia borders the Caspian Sea, the Ural Mountains, and the Central Siberian Plateau. Russia produces the third-most oil globally. Due to Russia's military activities in Ukraine, the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK have stopped buying Russian oil.

4. Canada: The Northern Dynamo

Production: 5,694,000 bpd

Canada has steadily grown its reputation as a major contender on the oil production stage. Its 2022 oil production of 5,694,000 barrels per day beat the previous year's 5,537,000 bpd, boosting its status. Alberta holds most of Canada's proven oil reserves. The Alberta government claims 97% of these deposits are oil sands. The United States is the primary recipient of Canadian energy exports. 

Recent debates concerning pipelines have captivated the nation. In 2018, the federal government bought the C$4.5 billion Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline to transport Canadian crude oil to market ports safely. The project's expansion expenses reached C$30.9 billion in March 2023.

5. China: Crude Giant of the East

Production: 5,119,000 bpd

The world's most populated nation, China, doesn't lag far behind, clocking a handsome annual oil output of 5,119,000 bpd in 2022. The nation wears the dual mantles of the world's second-largest oil consumer and the largest net oil importer since 2014. China's booming economy and considerable population have led to a spike in overall energy demand.

According to a report, China went through a period of reduced oil production during the first months of 2022 due to country-wide COVID-19 lockdowns. However, in a remarkable turnaround, oil refineries amplified their production by a significant 15.4 percent year-on-year in May 2023 following the relaxation of lockdown measures.

6. Iraq: The Resilient Producer

Production: 4,553,000 bpd

Despite its unstable past, Iraq has made significant oil production improvements. In 2018, Iraq overtook Venezuela as the country with the sixth-largest oil output globally. In 2022, output is predicted to reach 4,553,000 barrels, up 404,000 from 2021. With 145 billion barrels of oil, it ranks sixth globally.

7. United Arab Emirates: Middle Eastern Power House

Production: 4,237,000 bpd

As a key OPEC member, the United Arab Emirates consistently finds itself in the top 10 oil-producing countries globally. In 2022 alone, this desert nation manifested a notable year-on-year increase in oil production, hitting 4,237,000 bpd.

Most of these deposits are in Abu Dhabi. This country has an enormous amount of oil - 98 billion barrels, which is about 5.6% of all the oil in the world. That makes it the eighth country with the most oil reserves.

8. Brazil: Riding on Waves of Black Gold

Production: 3,803,000 bpd. 

The EIA reports that Brazil's primary energy consumption has quadrupled in ten years due to fast economic expansion. Oil and other liquid fuels supply most of Brazil's energy. Natural gas and hydroelectric power are the second and third biggest energy sources.

For 2023, Brazil seems on track to boost its annual oil production level yet again. The country's National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Biofuels projects that Brazil will soon scale the ranks to become the world's fourth-largest oil producer.

9. Iran: Abundance Amid Struggles

Production: 3,661,000 bpd

Iran produced more oil in 2022 than in 2020. From 2,990,000. Barrels per day to 3,661,000 barrels. Iran has enormous worldwide influence due to its vast petroleum and gas reserves. The country's natural gas and oil resources are ranked as the third largest reserves in the world. However — laden with US sanctions — Iran's energy production sector has seen better days.

Iran's oil production is still far below the 4,779,000 bpd produced in 2017. US sanctions and regional disputes have disrupted Iran's energy sector. Despite this, Iran continues its oil exports to China - one of its significant trade partners.

10. Kuwait: A Small Country with Big Contributions

Production: 3,022,000 bpd.

Kuwait's oil output also displayed an upward trend, nearly bouncing back to its 2018 levels after a dip in 2021. Kuwait's oil and gas sector accounts for 60% of its GDP and around 95% of its export revenues—a clear signal of its primary role in influencing the nation's economy.

Final Words

Considering the substantial consumption and demand for oil, analyzing the performance and potential of these countries offers a glimpse into the future of oil production. Interestingly, these predilections not only influence the global energy landscape but also play an influential role in shaping geopolitical strategies and economic stability. Through informed oil investment, we can contribute to these dynamics in myriad ways.

The world of oil production is undeniably as complex as it is interesting. Fluctuating market dynamics, international relations, natural reserves, and economic policies are vital in determining the leading oil-producing countries. 

Although oil is typically considered environmentally harmful, countries that rely on it have grown economically. USA, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Canada—the largest oil-producing country in the world—exemplify this. The future will challenge us to balance sustainable energy and economic prosperity. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Crude Oil Primarily Used for?

Crude oil finds extensive use in various sectors. Post extraction, it's refined into several products, such as:
Gasoline
Jet fuel
Kerosene
Paraffin
Petrochemical feedstocks
Solvents
Lubricants

Why Venezuela can't produce oil?

Venezuela's oil industry has grappled with political instability, government corruption, and US sanctions. However, there's a ray of hope with Venezuela's oil production rebounding in Q4 2023 as the Biden Administration eases sanctions, promising fair elections in 2024.

Who is the largest oil producer in the world in 2023?

As of 2023, the United States of America dominates global oil production, producing 20.21 million barrels daily.

Have We Hit Peak Oil?

Estimating how much oil is left to be extracted or consumed is still being determined. However, known reserves and demand scenarios suggest roughly 47 years of oil left. Remember, new technologies or economic shifts may significantly influence these figures.

Who is the largest maker of oil?

Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company, lords over the worldwide oil company ranking based on daily oil production. It reported a crude oil output of some 13.6 million barrels per day in the fiscal year 2022.

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Douglas Allan 31 Oct, 2023

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