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Map: The Countries With the Most Oil Reserves

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Map: The Countries With the Most Oil Reserves

Map: The Countries With the Most Oil Reserves

There’s little doubt that renewable energy sources will play a strategic role in powering the global economy of the future.

But for now, crude oil is still the undisputed heavyweight champion of the energy world.

In 2018, we consumed more oil than any prior year in history – about 99.3 million barrels per day on a global basis. This number is projected to rise again in 2019 to 100.8 million barrels per day.

The Most Oil Reserves by Country

Given that oil will continue to be dominant in the energy mix for the short and medium term, which countries hold the most oil reserves?

Today’s map comes from HowMuch.net and it uses data from the CIA World Factbook to resize countries based on the amount of oil reserves they hold.

Here’s the data for the top 15 countries below:

RankCountryOil Reserves (Barrels)
#1๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ช Venezuela300.9 billion
#2๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia266.5 billion
#3๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada169.7 billion
#4๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท Iran158.4 billion
#5๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ถ Iraq142.5 billion
#6๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ผ Kuwait101.5 billion
#7๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช United Arab Emirates97.8 billion
#8๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia80.0 billion
#9๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡พ Libya48.4 billion
#10๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Nigeria37.1 billion
#11๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States36.5 billion
#12๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Kazakhstan30.0 billion
#13๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China25.6 billion
#14๐Ÿ‡ถ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Qatar25.2 billion
#15๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil12.7 billion

Venezuela tops the list with 300.9 billion barrels of oil in reserve – but even this vast wealth in natural resources has not been enough to save the country from its recent economic and humanitarian crisis.

Saudi Arabia, a country known for its oil dominance, takes the #2 spot with 266.5 billion barrels of oil. Meanwhile, Canada and the U.S. are found at the #3 (169.7 billion bbls) and the #11 (36.5 billion bbls) spots respectively.

The Cost of Production

While having an endowment of billions of barrels of oil within your borders can be a strategic gift from mother nature, it’s worth mentioning that reserves are just one factor in assessing the potential value of this crucial resource.

In Saudi Arabia, for example, the production cost of oil is roughly $3.00 per barrel, which makes black gold strategic to produce at almost any possible price.

Other countries are not so lucky:

CountryProduction cost (bbl)Total cost (bbl)*
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom$17.36$44.33
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil$9.45$34.99
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Nigeria$8.81$28.99
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ช Venezuela$7.94$27.62
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada$11.56$26.64
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S. shale$5.85$23.35
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway$4.24$21.31
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S. non-shale$5.15$20.99
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Indonesia$6.87$19.71
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia$2.98$19.21
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ถ Iraq$2.16$10.57
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท Iran$1.94$9.09
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia$3.00$8.98
*Total cost (bbl) includes production cost (also shown), capital spending, gross taxes, and admin/transport costs.

Even if a country is blessed with some of the most oil reserves in the world, it may not be able to produce and sell that oil to maximize the potential benefit.

Countries like Canada and Venezuela are hindered by geology – in these places, the majority of oil is extra heavy crude or bitumen (oil sands), and these types of oil are simply more difficult and costly to extract.

In other places, obstacles are are self-imposed. In some countries, like Brazil and the U.S., there are higher taxes on oil production, which raises the total cost per barrel.

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Energy

Visualizing the Uranium Mining Industry in 3 Charts

These visuals highlight the uranium mining industry and its output, as well as the trajectory of nuclear energy from 1960 to today.

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When uranium was discovered in 1789 by Martin Heinrich Klaproth, itโ€™s likely the German chemist didnโ€™t know how important the element would become to human life.

Used minimally in glazing and ceramics, uranium was originally mined as a byproduct of producing radium until the late 1930s. However, the discovery of nuclear fission, and the potential promise of nuclear power, changed everything.

Whatโ€™s the current state of the uranium mining industry? This series of charts from Truman Du highlights production and the use of uranium using 2021 data from the World Nuclear Association (WNA) and Our World in Data.

Who are the Biggest Uranium Miners in the World?

Most of the world’s biggest uranium suppliers are based in countries with the largest uranium deposits, like Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada.

The largest of these companies is Kazatomprom, a Kazakhstani state-owned company that produced 25% of the world’s new uranium supply in 2021.

A donut chart showing the biggest uranium mining companies and the percentage they contribute to the world's supply of uranium.

As seen in the above chart, 94% of the roughly 48,000 tonnes of uranium mined globally in 2021 came from just 13 companies.

Rank Company2021 Uranium Production (tonnes)Percent of Total
1๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Kazatomprom 11,85825%
2๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท Orano 4,5419%
3๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Uranium One 4,5149%
4๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Cameco 4,3979%
5๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ CGN 4,1129%
6๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Navoi Mining3,5007%
7๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ CNNC 3,5627%
8๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ ARMZ 2,6355%
9๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ General Atomics/Quasar 2,2415%
10๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ BHP 1,9224%
11๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง Energy Asia 9002%
12๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ช Sopamin 8092%
13๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ VostGok 4551%
14Other2,8866%
Total48,332100%

France’s Orano, another state-owned company, was the world’s second largest producer of uranium at 4,541 tonnes.

Companies rounding out the top five all had similar uranium production numbers to Orano, each contributing around 9% of the global total. Those include Uranium One from Russia, Cameco from Canada, and CGN in China.

Where are the Largest Uranium Mines Found?

The majority of uranium deposits around the world are found in 16 countries with Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada accounting for for nearly 40% of recoverable uranium reserves.

But having large reserves doesn’t necessarily translate to uranium production numbers. For example, though Australia has the biggest single deposit of uranium (Olympic Dam) and the largest reserves overall, the country ranks fourth in uranium supplied, coming in at 9%.

Here are the top 10 uranium mines in the world, accounting for 53% of the worldโ€™s supply.

A map of the largest mines and countries that undertake uranium mining.

Of the largest mines in the world, four are found in Kazakhstan. Altogether, uranium mined in Kazakhstan accounted for 45% of the worldโ€™s uranium supply in 2021.

Uranium MineCountryMain Owner2021 Production
Cigar Lake๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ CanadaCameco/Orano4,693t
Inkai 1-3๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ KazakhstanKazaktomprom/Cameco3,449t
Husab๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฆ NamibiaSwakop Uranium (CGN)3,309t
Karatau (Budenovskoye 2)๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ KazakhstanUranium One/Kazatomprom2,561t
Rรถssing๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฆ NamibiaCNNC2,444t
Four Mile๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ AustraliaQuasar2,241t
SOMAIR๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ช NigerOrano1,996t
Olympic Dam๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ AustraliaBHP Billiton1,922t
Central Mynkuduk๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ KazakhstanOrtalyk1,579t
Kharasan 1๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ KazakhstanKazatomprom/Uranium One1,579t

Namibia, which has two of the five largest uranium mines in operation, is the second largest supplier of uranium by country, at 12%, followed by Canada at 10%.

Interestingly, the owners of these mines are not necessarily local. For example, France’s Orano operates mines in Canada and Niger. Russia’s Uranium One operates mines in Kazakhstan, the U.S., and Tanzania. China’s CGN owns mines in Namibia.

And despite the African continent holding a sizable amount of uranium reserves, no African company placed in the top 10 biggest companies by production. Sopamin from Niger was the highest ranked at #12 with 809 tonnes mined.

Uranium Mining and Nuclear Energy

Uranium mining has changed drastically since the first few nuclear power plants came online in the 1950s.

For 30 years, uranium production grew steadily due to both increasing demand for nuclear energy and expanding nuclear arsenals, eventually peaking at 69,692 tonnes mined in 1980 at the height of the Cold War.

Nuclear energy production (measured in terawatt-hours) also rose consistently until the 21st century, peaking in 2001 when it contributed nearly 7% to the worldโ€™s energy supply. But in the years following, it started to drop and flatline.

A chart plotting the total nuclear energy produced since 1950 and the percentage it contributes to the world's energy supply.

By 2021, nuclear energy had fallen to 4.3% of global energy production. Several nuclear accidentsโ€”Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushimaโ€”contributed to turning sentiment against nuclear energy.

YearNuclear Energy
Production
% of Total Energy
196572 TWh0.2%
196698 TWh0.2%
1967116 TWh0.2%
1968148 TWh0.3%
1969175 TWh0.3%
1970224 TWh0.4%
1971311 TWh0.5%
1972432 TWh0.7%
1973579 TWh0.9%
1974756 TWh1.1%
19751,049 TWh1.6%
19761,228 TWh1.7%
19771,528 TWh2.1%
19781,776 TWh2.3%
19791,847 TWh2.4%
19802,020 TWh2.6%
19812,386 TWh3.1%
19822,588 TWh3.4%
19832,933 TWh3.7%
19843,560 TWh4.3%
19854,225 TWh5%
19864,525 TWh5.3%
19874,922 TWh5.5%
19885,366 TWh5.8%
19895,519 TWh5.8%
19905,676 TWh5.9%
19915,948 TWh6.2%
19925,993 TWh6.2%
19936,199 TWh6.4%
19946,316 TWh6.4%
19956,590 TWh6.5%
19966,829 TWh6.6%
19976,782 TWh6.5%
19986,899 TWh6.5%
19997,162 TWh6.7%
20007,323 TWh6.6%
20017,481 TWh6.7%
20027,552 TWh6.6%
20037,351 TWh6.2%
20047,636 TWh6.2%
20057,608 TWh6%
20067,654 TWh5.8%
20077,452 TWh5.5%
20087,382 TWh5.4%
20097,233 TWh5.4%
20107,374 TWh5.2%
20117,022 TWh4.9%
20126,501 TWh4.4%
20136,513 TWh4.4%
20146,607 TWh4.4%
20156,656 TWh4.4%
20166,715 TWh4.3%
20176,735 TWh4.3%
20186,856 TWh4.2%
20197,073 TWh4.3%
20206,789 TWh4.3%
20217,031 TWh4.3%

More recently, a return to nuclear energy has gained some support as countries push for transitions to cleaner energy, since nuclear power generates no direct carbon emissions.

Whatโ€™s Next for Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear remains one of the least harmful sources of energy, and some countries are pursuing advancements in nuclear tech to fight climate change.

Small, modular nuclear reactors are one of the current proposed solutions to both bring down costs and reduce construction time of nuclear power plants. The benefits include smaller capital investments and location flexibility by trading off energy generation capacity.

With countries having to deal with aging nuclear reactors and climate change at the same time, replacements need to be considered. Will they come in the form of new nuclear power and uranium mining, or alternative sources of energy?

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