Politicians and activists may love to talk about renewable energy sources, but in today’s world fossil fuels are still king. Indeed, as technology has developed in recent years, previously unreachable oil and gas reserves, like shale gas, have become huge sources of industry.
Using data from British Petroleum’s 2013 statistical review of world energy, we calculated the countries with the largest reserves in three key fossil fuel categories—oil, coal, and natural gas.
We then calculated the total value of the reserves by using current global prices. For oil, we used the current Brent Crude Oil price on Bloomberg Markets. For natural gas, we averaged BP’s 2013 prices for Japan, United States and Germany to accommodate for the diverse world market. For coal, we used the World Bank’s 2013 trading price for Australian coal, which is commonly used as a benchmark for global markets.
While the data is imprecise, our ranking reveals which countries control the most energy. As developing economies like China and India expand and fossil fuel supplies dwindle, those reserves will be more important than ever.
150 billion barrels of proven oil reserves (#5)
126.7 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves (#12)
$18 trillion value at current prices
In 2012, Iraq passed Iran as the second largest producer of crude oil in OPEC, despite only a fraction of Iraq’s known oil fields being in development. The continuation of that trend is contingent on the stabilization of the country, which will make it more attractive to foreign investment. Foreign companies could provide much needed infrastructure improvements and developments.