Humanities › Issues The Truth About Middle East Oil Reserves Not Every Mideast Country is Oil-Rich Share Flipboard Email Print Muhannad Fala'ah/Stringer/Getty Images News/ Getty Images Issues The Middle East Basics The U. S. Government U.S. Foreign Policy U.S. Liberal Politics U.S. Conservative Politics Women's Issues Civil Liberties Race Relations Immigration Crime & Punishment Canadian Government Understanding Types of Government View More By Pierre Tristam Pierre Tristam Political Journalist B.A., Politics and History, New York University Pierre Tristam is an award-winning writer who covers Middle East, foreign affairs, immigration, and civil liberties. He has been writing for more than 20 years. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on October 07, 2019 he terms "Middle East" and "oil-rich" are often taken as synonyms of each other. Talk of the Middle East and oil has made it seem as if every country in the Middle East were an oil-rich, oil-producing exporter. Yet, the reality is at odds with that assumption. The Greater Middle East adds up to more than 30 countries. Only a few of those have significant oil reserves and produce enough oil to slake their energy needs and export oil as well. Several have minor oil reserves. Let's take a look at the reality of the Middle East and proved crude oil reserves. The Oil-Dry Nations of the Greater Middle East To really understand how the countries in the Middle East are related to the world's oil productions, it's important to understand which do not have oil reserves. Seven countries in total are what is considered 'oil-dry.' They do not have the crude oil reservoirs required for production or export. A number of these countries are small in area or located in regions that simply do not have the reserves of their neighbors. The oil-dry countries of the Middle East include: AfghanistanCyprusComorosDjiboutiEritreaLebanonSomalia The Mideast's Biggest Oil Producers The Middle East's association with oil production primarily comes from countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait. Each of these has over 100 billions of barrels in proved reserves. What is a 'proved reserve'? According to the CIA World Factbook, 'proved reserves' of crude oil are those that have been "estimated with a high degree of confidence to be commercially recoverable." These are known reservoirs analyzed by "geological and engineering data." It's also important to note that the oil must have the ability to be obtained anytime in the future and that "current economic conditions" do play a role in these estimates. With these definitions in mind, 100 of the 217 countries in the world rank for having some degree of proved oil reserves. The world's oil industry is a complex maze that is extremely important in the world economy. That is why it is key to so many diplomatic discussions. The Mideast's Oil Producers, by Estimated Proved Reserves Rank Country Reserves (bbn*) World Rank 1 Saudi Arabia 266.2 2 2 Iran 157.2 4 3 Iraq 149.8 5 4 Kuwait 101.5 6 5 United Arab Emirates 97.8 7 6 Libya 48.4 9 7 Kazakhstan 30 11 8 Qatar 25.2 13 9 Algeria 12.2 15 10 Azerbaijan 7 18 11 Oman 5.4 21 12 Sudan 5 22 13 Egypt 4.4 25 14 Yemen 3 29 15 Syria 2.5 30 16 Turkmenistan 0.6 43 17 Uzbekistan 0.6 44 18 Tunisia 0.4 48 19 Pakistan 0.3 52 20 Bahrain 0.1 67 21 Mauritania 0.02 83 22 Israel 0.012 87 23 Jordan 0.01 96 24 Morocco 0.0068 97 *bbn - billions of barrelsSource: CIA World Factbook; January 2018 figures. Which Country has the Biggest Oil Reserves? In reviewing the table of Middle East oil reserves, you will notice that no country in the region ranks for the top oil reserves in the world. So which country does rank number one? The answer is Venezuela with an estimated 302 billion barrels available of proved crude oil reserves. Other countries in the world that make up the top ten include: #3: Canada with 170.5 billion barrels#8: Russia with 80 billion barrels#10: Nigeria with 37.5 billion barrels Where does the United States rank? The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated the total proved oil reserve in the country as 39.2 billion barrels as of the end of 2017. The CIA World Factbook omitted the U.S. in the 2018 ranking, but the estimate from the EIA would place it in the #10 place, and move Nigeria into 11 in the world rankings. Sources "Country Comparison: Crude Oil - Proved Reserves." The World Factbook. Washington DC: Central Intelligence Agency. "U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Proved Reserves, Year-end 2017." U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2017. Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Tristam, Pierre. "The Truth About Middle East Oil Reserves." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/middle-east-oil-reserves-by-country-2353411. Tristam, Pierre. (2021, February 16). The Truth About Middle East Oil Reserves. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/middle-east-oil-reserves-by-country-2353411 Tristam, Pierre. "The Truth About Middle East Oil Reserves." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/middle-east-oil-reserves-by-country-2353411 (accessed January 22, 2022). copy citation Did Oil Drive the US Invasion of Iraq? Strait of Hormuz What Is Interventionism? Definition and Examples Understanding the Bush Doctrine What Are the Countries That Make up the Arab States? Will the World's Supply of Oil Run Out? The Difference Between 'Iranian' and 'Persian' Kuwait | Facts and History How Much U.S. Debt Does China Really Own? Leaders of the Middle East: A Photo Gallery U.S. Policy in the Middle East: 1945 to 2008 Oil Comes from Dinosaurs - Fact or Fiction? Population Decline in Russia Impacts of the Iraq War on the Middle East Understanding the Pros and Cons of Protectionism Does Oil Come From Dinosaurs?