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Where Does the World’s Oil Come From?


Oil remains the most valuable source of energy in the world. It’s no secret that we are completely dependent on oil and that we use more oil than ever. Although we are seeing a rise in alternative energy sources, the demand for oil continues to increase daily.

Many people don’t know that the majority of the world’s oil comes from only a few countries. With the entire world depending on oil, the petroleum industry is one of the most important sectors for any nation’s economy. In some countries the government has monopolized their oil and gas industry, allowing the government to earn more profits and have more control. The success of a nation’s oil industry is measured by their production. Oil production is the total number of barrels of oil extracted per day.

Oil - petroleum industry

Bach Ho oil rig in Viet Nam

The following are the top oil producing countries in the world, using the most recent data available from 2014.

United States

America is now the number one producer of oil and gas in the world. Innovation in drilling techniques, such as horizontal drilling and fracking, have allowed oil companies in the US to extract oil that they were previously unable to. Improved technology has created a boom in US oil production and America is now predicted to be completely energy independent in the next few years.

In 2014 the United States produced 12.4 million barrels of oil per day. That’s an increase from the 11.1 million barrels they produced in 2013.

Saudi Arabia

After leading the world in oil production for years, Saudi Arabia was finally passed by the US in 2014 as the top oil producer. Total daily production from Saudi Arabia in 2014 came out to 11.6 million, which is the production they’ve consistently maintained over the last three years. While Saudi Arabia has implemented similar drilling techniques that oil companies in America are using, their technology is not quite as sophisticated yet.

Saudi Arabia is expected to steadily increase production and try to gain back market share they’ve lost in last several years. They are especially focused on taking market share from the U.S. shale sector, the Canadian oil sands, and Russia.


Russia’s 2014 oil production reached a post-Soviet high of 10.6 million barrels per day. Growth in production slowed from 2013 due to falling oil prices and Western sanctions. Russia’s economy is extremely dependent on their oil and gas industry and is suffering from low oil prices in early 2015. However, their oil production is only projected to decline by about one percent despite pressure from OPEC to slow production.

Other Noteworthy Oil Producing Countries

While the US, Saudi Arabia, and Russia produce the majority of the world’s oil, there are several other countries that produce a significant amount of oil as well. Here are a few noteworthy oil producing countries.


China’s oil production remained steady from 2013 to 2014 at 4.4 million barrels per day. Although China has the most shale natural gas reserves and the third highest oil reserves in the world, they also have a very complex geographical landscape that has prevented them from repeating the success American oil companies have had. Once they develop the technology to access these shale reserves China could potentially join the top three oil producing countries in the world. China is a leading consumer of oil and imports much of their oil from Russia.


Canada experienced record high production levels in 2014 averaging 4.3 million barrels per day. Falling oil prices have led to a decrease in capital invested in the Canadian oil sands, as well as conventional oil production. Canada is expected to decrease production in 2015 following their record year. Canada’s petroleum industry exploded leading up to 2014 and thousands of residents relocated to work in the oil sands where oil companies pay six figure salaries to offset the terrible living conditions. In early 2015, a significant portion of these workers are out of a job and desperately hoping for oil prices to jump back up.


Despite record low production of 2.8 million barrels per day, Mexico is still one of the top oil producers in the world. Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the state-owned petroleum company that monopolized the industry for years, is preparing for an influx in foreign investment. Pemex has even created a digital library of translated documents for English-speaking oil and gas professionals to access. (Pemex English Library) As of early 2015, Pemex projects production to fall to 2.4 million barrels per day by the end of the year. However, those numbers could change depending on what happens to oil prices throughout the year.

Author Bio:

Kyle Stout is a freelance writer based out of Tulsa, OK. As a former oil and gas professional, he follows and writes about trends in the petroleum industry.

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