• According to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the world proven crude oil reserves stood at 1,074,850 million barrels* (about 153 billion tonnes) at the end of 2001. Close to 79 per cent of these reserves (845,421 million barrels) were in the eleven OPEC countries (Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela).
  • At the end of 2001, Saudi Arabia had the largest of these proven reserves (262,697 million barrels), followed by Iraq, Iran, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait, with together about 400,000 million barrels). OPEC estimates that the oil reserves in its member countries will last for another 80 years (at the current rate of production), while the reserves of non-OPEC oil producers (e.g., in the Northeast Atlantic) might last less than another 20 years.
  • See also International Energy Agency (IEA) and other information sources on world oil reserves.


  • At the end of 2001, the world oil production was about 9.3 million tonnes per day (OPEC). At this time, Saudi Arabia was also the largest of the producer with almost 7.9 million barrels (approx. 1.3 million tonnes) per day, followed by Russian Federation, United States, Iran and China. The world's biggest producers of oil are Saudi Arabia, the United States, the Russian Federation, Iran, Mexico, Venezuela, Norway, China, Canada and the United Kingdom.
  • According to a report published in 2002 by the National Research Council (NRC) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the world oil production was 11 million tonnes per day in 2000.
  • See also International Energy Agency and other information sources on world oil production.


  • In 2000, the world consumption of oil, according to the reference case of OPEC's World Energy Model, was 76 million barrels per day (close to 11 million tonnes). The forecast was an increase in consumption to almost 91 million barrels per day in 2010 and to 103 million barrels a day in 2020. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the global consumption of petroleum increased from 9.3 to 11.7 million tonnes per day during the period 1985-2000, an increase of over 25 per cent.
  • See also International Energy Agency and other information sources on world oil consumption.


  • Offshore oil production accounts for about 30 per cent of the total world oil production, and offshore gas production for about half of the world production of natural gas.
  • According to the NRC report, there were about 8,300 fixed or floating offshore platforms worldwide in 1999. The UNEP Offshore Oil and Gas Environment Forum (OEF) gives these figures: more than 6,500 offshore oil and gas installations worldwide, about 4,000 of which in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, 950 in Asia, 700 in the Middle East and 400 in Europe.


  • According to the NRC report, about 1.3 million tonnes of oil (as best estimate) enter the sea worldwide each year from all sources — natural seepage, extraction, transport, and consumption.
  • However, the range of estimated worldwide input of oil (petroleum hydrocarbons) into the oceans is wide, from a possible 470,000 tonnes to a possible 8.4 million tonnes per year.
  • The Council has lowered its estimate of the total input of oil into the marine environment considerably since its 1985 report, when the estimated was 3.2 million tonnes per year. As pointed out in the 2002 report: "This has probably resulted because the databases and computational methods have improved significantly since the 1985 NRC report, and there have been worldwide efforts to stem pollution of the world's oceans".
  • In 1993, the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), estimated the total annual global input of oils (hydrocarbons) into the marine environment to be 2.3 million tonnes.
  • For detailed figures of estimated annual discharges from different sea-based and land-based sources: >>> Sources.

* 1 barrel = 42 American gallons or 35 British imperial gallons = 159 litres. In round figures: 7—9 barrels = 1 ton of oil, depending on the type of oil. Or: 294 American gallons = 1 ton of oil (ranging from 256 American gallons per ton of heavy distillate to 333 American gallons per ton of gasoline, with crude oil at 272 American gallons per ton).

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