The global production of oil is driven by a host of complex factors, ranging from resource scarcity to a country’s access to the latest technological breakthroughs.
As these factors play out, the oil production landscape can dramatically change.
Countries can secure energy independence and global influence by rising up the rankings – or they can fall off the map completely, becoming a footnote on the global stage.
Animation: The Changing Oil Landscape
Today’s animation shows you how the oil landscape has changed, in terms of production by country, in less than a minute of time.
Data here comes from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2018, which chronicles oil production by country all the way from 1965-2017.
The animation starts in 1965 during the height of the Cold War – a time when it was becoming incredibly evident that the ability to produce oil self-sufficiently would be a crucial advantage for any type of global superpower.
|Rank||Country||Oil production (bpd) in 1965|
|#1||🇺🇸 United States||9.0 million|
|#2||☭ USSR||4.9 million|
|#3||🇻🇪 Venezuela||3.5 million|
|#4||🇰🇼 Kuwait||2.4 million|
|#5||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||2.2 million|
|#6||🇮🇷 Iran||1.9 million|
|#7||🇮🇶 Iraq||1.3 million|
|#8||🇱🇾 Libya||1.2 million|
|#9||🇨🇦 Canada||0.9 million|
|#10||🇩🇿 Algeria||0.6 million|
During this stretch of time, the United States was the undeniable leader in oil production, producing an average of 9.0 million barrels per day.
Put another way, U.S. oil production nearly double that of the entire USSR, or four times as much as the largest Arab producer (Kuwait), making this period a heyday of U.S. energy dominance.
Modern Production Figures
According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018, here is how oil production has shaped up based on more recent data.
|Rank||Country||Oil production (bpd) in 2017|
|#1||🇺🇸 United States||13.1 million|
|#2||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||12.0 million|
|#3||🇷🇺 Russian Federation||11.3 million|
|#4||🇮🇷 Iran||5.0 million|
|#5||🇨🇦 Canada||4.8 million|
|#6||🇮🇶 Iraq||4.5 million|
|#7||🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||3.9 million|
|#8||🇨🇳 China||3.8 million|
|#9||🇰🇼 Kuwait||3.0 million|
|#10||🇧🇷 Brazil||2.7 million|
As you can see, there are essentially three superpowers that produce over 10 million barrels of oil per day: United States (13.1 million), Saudi Arabia (12.0 million), and Russia (11.3 million).
Together, these three countries combine for 39.1% of global oil production, and about 24.9% of the world’s proven oil reserves.
After this group, there is a significant dropoff: Iran (5.0 million bpd), Canada (4.8 million bpd) and Iraq (4.5 million bpd) each have a 5% share of global production, while the U.A.E. and China are next on the list.
In total, the top 10 producers of crude oil combine for roughly 70% of the global total – meaning the world’s other 183 countries added together produce just 30% of the world’s total crude.
Ranked: Countries with the Most Sustainable Energy Policies
Which countries are able to balance prosperity and sustainability in their energy mixes? See the countries with the most sustainable energy policies.
Ranked: Countries With Most Sustainable Energy Policies
The sourcing and distribution of energy is one of the most pressing issues of our time.
Just under one billion people still lack basic access to electricity, and many more connect to the grid through improvised wiring or live through frequent blackouts. On the flip side of the socioeconomic spectrum, a growing chorus of voices is pressuring governments and corporations to power the global economy in a more sustainable way.
Today’s visualization – using data from the World Energy Council (WEC) – ranks countries based on their mix of policies for tackling issues like energy security and environmental sustainability.
The Energy Trilemma Index
According to WEC, there are three primary policy areas that form the “trilemma”:
1. Energy Security
A nation’s capacity to meet current and future energy demand reliably, and bounce back swiftly from system shocks with minimal disruption to supply. This dimension covers the effectiveness of management of domestic and external energy sources, as well as the reliability and resilience of energy infrastructure.
2. Energy Equity
A country’s ability to provide universal access to reliable, affordable, and abundant energy for domestic and commercial use. This dimension captures basic access to electricity and clean cooking fuels and technologies, access to prosperity-enabling levels of energy consumption, and affordability of electricity, gas, and fuel.
3. Environmental Sustainability
The transition of a country’s energy system towards mitigating and avoiding environmental harm and climate change impacts. This dimension focuses on productivity and efficiency of generation, transmission and distribution, decarbonization, and air quality.
Using the dimensions above, a score out of 100 is generated. Here’s a complete ranking that shows which countries have the most sustainable energy policies:
|Rank||Country||Trilemma Score||Letter Grade*|
|4||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||81.5||AAA|
|10||🇳🇿 New Zealand||79.4||AAA|
|15||🇺🇸 United States||77.5||AAB|
|16||🇨🇿 Czech Republic||77.4||AAB|
|34||🇭🇰 Hong Kong (China)||72.5||DAB|
|37||🇰🇷 South Korea||71.7||BAC|
|38||🇨🇷 Costa Rica||71.6||CBA|
|62||🇸🇻 El Salvador||66.0||BCA|
|71||🇲🇰 North Macedonia||63.7||CBC|
|76||🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago||63.3||CAD|
|78||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||62.8||CAD|
|79||🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herz.||62.1||BBC|
|85||🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||60.1||BCB|
|92||🇿🇦 South Africa||58.9||DBD|
|97||🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||57.6||DBB|
|111||🇨🇮 Côte d’Ivoire||49.3||BDC|
*The letter grade represents national performance in three dimensions. The first letter represents Security, the second letter represents Equity, the third letter represents the Environmental Sustainability. The top grade is AAA, the lowest is DDD.
Highs, Lows, and Outliers
Every country has unique circumstances — from strategic energy reserves to green energy ambitions — that shape their domestic energy policies. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more interesting situations around the world.
Global Energy Outlook
Achieving the balance of prosperity and sustainability is a goal of nearly every country, but it takes stability and the right mix of policies to get the job done.
The fact that many trilemma scores are improving is an indicator that the world’s patchwork of energy policies are slowly moving in the right direction.
Ranked: The World’s Largest Energy Sources
As global population grows, our energy demand grows as well. Here are the largest energy sources in the world and how much electricity they generate.
The World’s Largest and Most Notable Energy Sources
Every day, humans consume roughly 63,300,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity to power our homes, workplaces, and vehicles─about the same produced by over 5,700 Hoover Dams.
While present-day electricity generation is slanted heavily in favor of coal and gas on a global basis, renewable sources have started to gain ground.
Today’s graphic from Information is Beautiful lists the world’s largest energy sources and their energy outputs. These power plants are ranked using the daily megawatt-hour (MWh), the amount of energy a power source generates in a day.
Relying on Renewables
Located in the United Kingdom, Drax Power Station is the world’s largest biomass plant, powered chiefly by burning wood. Originally a coal-fired plant, Drax is expected to fully phase out coal by the year 2025.
Meanwhile, Tengger Desert Solar Park in China was the biggest solar operation until 2018, but it has since been displaced by the Shakti Sthala plant in India. The latter uses only solar panels─no mirrors─to generate energy from the sun.
Overall, solar photovoltaics have experienced the highest growth of all energy source segments, showing 31% annual growth─nearly triple the rate of wind power according to the International Energy Association (IEA).
Currently, 27% of the world’s power comes from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and other similar resources.
However, according to back-of-the-envelope calculations, the potential for renewables is far beyond existing generation capacity. In fact, humans are just using 0.81% of solar’s potential generation capacity, and 0.57% of the potential from wind.
|Potential Energy Generation Capacity||480,000,000 MWh||401,850,000 MWh||86,400,000 MWh||48,767,123 MWh|
|Energy Generated (Current)||3,884,983 MWh||2,304,000 MWh||11,465,753 MWh||201,761 MWh|
|% of Potential Used||0.81%||0.57%||13.3%||0.41%|
Non-renewable Energy Sources
Nuclear power plants have perhaps the strongest stigma against them─largely due to international disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.
However, nuclear power plants are still the most efficient energy sources, sitting at over 90% average capacity.
The largest nuclear plant (by MW) in the world, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, is currently shut down due to damage from a 2007 earthquake, and awaiting confirmation to restart operations. As a result, the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Canada now holds the title of the largest operating reactor in the world. The plant currently generates about 30% of Ontario’s power.
In 2018, coal is still being used to generate roughly 38% of the world’s total electricity, followed by natural gas with a 23% share.
The Future of Energy Potential
Fittingly, the graphic also shows daily energy outputs for Google and Bitcoin usage. This data helps remind us that our online activity also consumes energy─something that will be top of mind as technology continues to advance and humans need to use more energy through our internet-enabled devices.
Understanding humanity’s need for energy is a daunting endeavor, but it’s critical to ensuring our planet has a sustainable source of energy for generations to come.
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