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Visualizing the World’s Largest Oil Producers

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largest oil producers

The World’s Largest Oil Producers

The world is in the middle of the first energy crisis of the 21st century.

High energy prices, especially for oil, gas, and coal, are driving decades-high inflation in various countries, some of which are also experiencing energy shortages. Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the crisis, given that the country is both a major producer and exporter of oil and natural gas.

Using data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, the above infographic provides further context on the crisis by visualizing the world’s largest oil producers in 2021.

Oil Production: OPEC Countries vs. Rest of the World

Before looking at country-level data, it’s worth seeing the amount of oil the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) produces compared to other organizations and regions.

Region/Organization2021 Oil Production (barrels per day)% of Total
OPEC31.7M35%
North America23.9M27%
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)13.8M15%
Rest of the World20.5M23%
Total89.9M100%

The OPEC countries are the largest oil producers collectively, with Saudi Arabia alone making up one-third of OPEC production. It’s also important to note that OPEC production remains below pre-pandemic levels after the organization reduced its output by an unprecedented 10 million barrels per day (B/D) in 2020.

Following the OPEC countries, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico accounted for just over a quarter of global oil production in 2021. Nearly 70% of North American oil production came from the U.S., the world’s largest oil producer.

Similarly, within the CIS—an organization of post-Soviet Union countries—Russia was by far the largest producer, accounting for 80% of total CIS production.

The Largest Oil Producers in 2021

Roughly 43% of the world’s oil production came from just three countries in 2021—the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Together, these three countries produced more oil than the rest of the top 10 combined.

Country2021 Oil Production (barrels per day)% of Total
U.S. 🇺🇸16.6M18.5%
Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦11M12.2%
Russian Federation 🇷🇺10.9M12.2%
Canada 🇨🇦5.4M6.0%
Iraq 🇮🇶4.1M4.6%
China 🇨🇳4.0M4.4%
United Arab Emirates 🇦🇪3.7M4.1%
Iran 🇮🇷3.6M4.0%
Brazil 🇧🇷3.0M3.3%
Kuwait 🇰🇼2.7M3.0%
Norway 🇳🇴2.0M2.3%
Mexico 🇲🇽1.9M2.1%
Kazakhstan 🇰🇿1.8M2.0%
Qatar 🇶🇦1.7M1.9%
Nigeria 🇳🇬1.6M1.8%
Algeria 🇩🇿1.4M1.5%
Libya 🇱🇾1.3M1.4%
Angola 🇦🇴1.2M1.3%
Oman 🇴🇲0.97M1.1%
United Kingdom 🇬🇧0.87M1.0%
India 🇮🇳0.75M0.8%
Colombia 🇨🇴0.74M0.8%
Azerbaijan 🇦🇿0.72M0.8%
Indonesia 🇮🇩0.69M0.8%
Venezuela 🇻🇪0.65M0.7%
Argentina 🇦🇷0.63M0.7%
Egypt 🇪🇬0.60M0.7%
Malaysia 🇲🇾0.57M0.6%
Ecuador 🇪🇨0.47M0.5%
Australia 🇦🇺0.44M0.5%
Thailand 🇹🇭0.39M0.4%
Republic of Congo 🇨🇬0.27M0.3%
Turkmenistan 🇹🇲0.25M0.3%
Vietnam 🇻🇳0.19M0.2%
Gabon 🇬🇦0.18M0.2%
South Sudan 🇸🇩0.15M0.2%
Equatorial Guinea 🇬🇳0.14M0.2%
Peru 🇵🇪0.13M0.1%
Chad 🇹🇩0.12M0.1%
Brunei 🇧🇳0.10M0.1%
Italy 🇮🇹0.10M0.1%
Syria 🇸🇾0.10M0.1%
Trinidad & Tobago 🇹🇹0.08M0.1%
Romania 🇷🇴0.07M0.1%
Yemen 🇾🇪0.07M0.1%
Denmark 🇩🇰0.07M0.1%
Sudan 🇸🇩0.06M0.1%
Uzbekistan 🇺🇿0.06M0.1%
Tunisia 🇹🇳0.05M0.1%
Rest of the World 🌍1.2M1.4%
Total89.9M100.0%

Over the last few decades, U.S. oil production has been on a rollercoaster of troughs and peaks. After falling from its 1970 peak of 11.3 million B/D, it reached a historic low of 6.8 million B/D in 2008. However, following a turnaround in the 2010s, the country has since surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest oil producer. As of 2021, though, the U.S. remained a net importer of crude oil while exporting refined petroleum products.

Saudi Arabia and Russia each produced roughly 11 million B/D in 2021 and were the two largest oil exporters globally. In both countries, state-owned oil firms (Saudi Aramco and Gazprom, respectively) were the most valuable oil and gas producing companies.

From Europe (excluding Russia), only Norway made the top 15 oil producers, accounting for 2.3% of global production. The lack of regional output partly explains the European Union’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, worsening the region’s energy crisis.

How the Energy Crisis is Affecting Oil Production

After a deep dive in 2020, oil demand is resurfacing and is now above pre-pandemic levels. Furthermore, supply constraints due to sanctions on Russian oil and gas tighten the market and support high oil prices.

While the impact has been felt globally, European countries have been hit hard due to their reliance on Russia’s fossil fuel exports, with some getting almost all of their energy fuels from Russia.

To combat the oil crunch, the rest of the world is ramping up oil supply through increased production or releasing strategic petroleum reserves (SPRs). U.S. oil production is expected to rise by 1 million B/D in 2022 to a record-high. Simultaneously, Western nations are calling on OPEC members to increase their output to ease prices. However, OPEC nations are sticking to their planned production hikes, with output still below early 2020 levels.

“We had a good discussion on ensuring global energy security and adequate oil supplies to support global economic growth. And that will begin shortly.”– U.S. President Joe Biden on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia

The U.S. is releasing 180 million barrels of oil from its SPR, of which 60 million barrels will contribute to the IEA’s collective release of 120 million barrels. But with oil demand expected to reach a new all-time high in 2023, it remains to be seen whether these efforts to increase supply will be enough to curb the crunch.

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Energy Shift

Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. as Top Crude Oil Producer

Over the last decade, the U.S. has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s top producer of crude oil.

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Line chart showing how the U.S. has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top producer of crude oil.

Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. as Top Crude Oil Producer

Over the last decade, the United States has established itself as the world’s top producer of crude oil, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This infographic illustrates the rise of the U.S. as the biggest oil producer, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

U.S. Takes Lead in 2018

Over the last three decades, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia have alternated as the top crude producers, but always by small margins.

During the 1990s, Saudi Arabia dominated crude production, taking advantage of its extensive oil reserves. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 42% of the country’s GDP, 87% of its budget revenues, and 90% of export earnings.

However, during the 2000s, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia in production during some years, following strategic investments in expanding its oil infrastructure. The majority of Russia’s oil goes to OECD Europe (60%), with around 20% going to China.

Crude Oil Production United StatesSaudi ArabiaRussia
199211.93%13.97%12.74%
199311.50%13.68%11.35%
199410.96%13.32%10.50%
199510.60%13.17%9.96%
199610.21%12.87%9.49%
19979.84%12.73%9.29%
19989.39%12.58%9.05%
19999.06%11.99%9.33%
20008.67%12.33%9.64%
20018.65%11.89%10.45%
20028.63%11.49%11.53%
20038.05%12.92%12.10%
20047.46%12.74%12.67%
20057.00%13.21%12.82%
20066.85%13.00%12.90%
20076.84%12.38%13.29%
20086.71%12.44%12.56%
20097.32%11.28%12.98%
20107.37%11.31%13.03%
20117.55%12.81%13.02%
20128.50%13.04%12.94%
20139.76%12.86%13.10%
201411.18%12.60%12.86%
201511.67%12.77%12.66%
201610.92%13.12%13.02%
201711.53%12.68%13.05%
201813.21%12.77%12.96%
201914.90%12.15%13.20%
202014.87%12.37%12.97%
202114.59%12.06%13.10%
202214.73%13.17%12.76%

Over the 2010s, the U.S. witnessed an increase in domestic production, much of it attributable to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in the shale formations ranging from Texas to North Dakota. It became the world’s largest oil producer in 2018, outproducing Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. accounted for 14.7% of crude oil production worldwide in 2022, compared to 13.1% for Saudi Arabia and 12.7% for Russia.

Despite leading petroleum production, the U.S. still trails seven countries in remaining proven reserves underground, with 55,251 million barrels.

Venezuela has the biggest reserves with 303,221 million barrels. Saudi Arabia, with 267,192 million barrels, occupies the second spot, while Russia is seventh with 80,000 million barrels.

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Energy Shift

Visualizing All the Nuclear Waste in the World

Despite concerns about nuclear waste, high-level radioactive waste constitutes less than 0.25% of all radioactive waste ever generated.

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Graphic cubes illustrating the global volume of nuclear waste and its disposal methods.

Visualizing All the Nuclear Waste in the World

Originally posted on the Decarbonization Channel. Subscribe to the free mailing list to be the first to receive decarbonization-related visualizations, with a focus on the U.S. power sector.

Nuclear power is among the safest and cleanest sources of electricity, making it a critical part of the clean energy transition.

However, nuclear waste, an inevitable byproduct, is often misunderstood.

In collaboration with the National Public Utilities Council, this graphic shows the volume of all existing nuclear waste, categorized by its level of hazardousness and disposal requirements, based on data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Storage and Disposal

Nuclear provides about 10% of global electricity generation.

Nuclear waste, produced as a result of this, can be divided into four different types:

  • Very low-level waste: Waste suitable for near-surface landfills, requiring lower containment and isolation.
  • Low-level waste: Waste needing robust containment for up to a few hundred years, suitable for disposal in engineered near-surface facilities.
  • Intermediate-level waste: Waste that requires a greater degree of containment and isolation than that provided by near-surface disposal.
  • High-level waste: Waste is disposed of in deep, stable geological formations, typically several hundred meters below the surface.

Despite safety concerns, high-level radioactive waste constitutes less than 0.25% of total radioactive waste reported to the IAEA.

Waste ClassDisposed (cubic meters)Stored (cubic meters)Total (cubic meters)
Very low-level waste758,802313,8821,072,684
Low-level waste1,825,558204,8582,030,416
Intermediate level waste671,097201,893872,990
High-level waste3,9605,3239,283

Stored and disposed radioactive waste reported to the IAEA under the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. Data is from the last reporting year which varies by reporting country, 2019-2023.

The amount of waste produced by the nuclear power industry is small compared to other industrial activities.

While flammable liquids comprise 82% of the hazardous materials shipped annually in the U.S., radioactive waste accounts for only 0.01%.

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