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Commodities Investing: Global Oil Reserve Estimates

As a commodities investor, knowing which countries have large crude oil deposits is an important part of your investment strategy. As demand for crude oil increases, countries that have large deposits of this natural resource stand to benefit tremendously. One way to benefit from this trend is to invest in indigenous countries and companies with large reserves of crude oil.

Oil & Gas Journal estimates that global proven crude oil reserves as of 2009 are 1,342 billion barrels (1.34 trillion barrels). The countries with the largest oil reserves may change as new oil fields are discovered, as new technologies facilitate the extraction of additional oil from existing fields, and as a result of natural depletion.

Rank Country Proven Reserves (Billion Barrels)
1 Saudi Arabia 261
2 Iran 150
3 Iraq 143
4 Kuwait 104
5 United Arab Emirates 99
6 Venezuela 98
7 Russia 60
8 Libya 41
9 Nigeria 36
10 United States 21

Source: Oil & Gas Journal

Although Canada isn’t on this list, it has proven reserves of 4.7 billion barrels of conventional crude oil, which is crude that’s easily recoverable and accounted for. In addition to conventional crude, Canada is rich in unconventional crude oil located in oil sands.

Oil from oil sands is much more difficult to extract and, as a result, generally isn’t included in the calculation of official and conventional reserve estimates. However, if Canada’s oil sands were included, Canada would be catapulted to the number two spot, with a grand total of 178 billion barrels.

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