Saudi Oil Reserves Growth Has Lagged The Rest Of The World

Despite continued skepticism about the level of Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves, their oil reserve and production metrics look pretty typical when compared to the world’s other oil-producing countries.

On an absolute basis, Saudi Arabia did report one of the largest overall increases in proved reserves since 1982, with just under 101 billion barrels added. That increase trails only Venezuela (+278 billion barrels), Canada (+129 billion barrels), and Iran (+101 billion barrels).

Oil Production Increases Since 1982

Saudi Arabia’s oil production increased by 72% from 1982 to 2017. This was slightly ahead of the world’s overall 62% increase in oil production, but behind the overall Middle East increase of 135%. There were nearly two dozen countries reporting a larger percentage increase in production since 1982 than Saudi Arabia.

Thailand, Angola, and Brazil are all producing at least nine times as much oil today as they did in 1982, while a dozen countries are reporting lower production in 2017 versus 1982. U.S. oil production in 2017 was 28% greater than in 1982.

Cumulative Production Since 1982

Finally, let’s consider cumulative production from different countries since 1982 as a percentage of their 1982 reported reserves. In 1982 Saudi Arabia reported 166 billion barrels of proved reserves, and since then (through the end of 2017) they have produced 118 billion barrels. So from 1982 through 2017 they produced oil equivalent to 71% of their 1982 proved reserves.

How does that compare to other countries? Only three countries reported a smaller number. Kuwait, Iraq, and Tunisia respectively produced the equivalent of 41%, 46%, and 49% of their reported 1982 reserves between 1982 and 2017.

The U.S. was in the middle of the pack, producing 335% of their 1982 reserves over that time, while at the top of the scale Thailand, Colombia, and Brazil all produced more than 1,000% of their 1982 proved reserves.