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US Biggest Oil Consumer, India Seventh Largest

Oil reserves: A country’s oil reserves are the estimated quantity of crude oil that can be produced under the present operating conditions. Because of different reservoir characteristics and limitations in petroleum production technology, only a fraction of the total stored oil can be extracted for economic use. This fraction is called the actual oil reserves.

Experts believe that oil producing countries do not reveal their true oil reserves. Because of political reasons and also the fixed quota of oil production in different organizations of oil producing coun tries, oil reserve estimates are considered a national secret.

Location of the major oil reserves:

According to US Energy Information Administration, Saudi Arabia has the world’s largest proved oil reserves of 267 billion barrels. It is followed by Venezuela (211.2), Canada (173.6), Iran (151.2), Iraq (143.1), Kuwait (104.0), UAE (97.8) and Russia (60).Over 95% of Canada’s oil reserves are in oil sands deposits in Alberta and hence its ranking is disputed.

Major consumers and producers of oil:

Most of the top consumers are developed nations. America’s daily oil consumption of 18.5 million barrels is the highest in the world. It is followed by China and Japan, which consume 10 and 4.7 million barrels per day. India is the world’s seventh largest petroleum consumer and its daily consumption ranging between 2-4 million barrels.

OPEC and its role in the oil market:

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an international body of some of the world’s most oil-rich countries. It was formed in 1960 for negotiation with companies on matters like production and prices. OPEC tries to keep global oil prices within a band by fixing production quotas for each member, thereby controlling the supply.

Why does the West criticise OPEC?

OPEC’s most important goal is to safeguard the interests of its member countries and to stabilize oil prices in the international market. However there is a constant tussle between the OPEC and the Western world and its influence on the international oil market is often criticized. Following the Yom Kippur War fought by Israel against Syria and Egypt in 1973, OPEC refused to ship oil to western countries that had supported Israel in the war. This refusal caused the first oil crisis (1973) and a four-fold increase in oil prices.

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