Saudi Arabia has long been synonymous with oil production, but the world's largest crude exporter may not hold that title for long.
According to a new analysis from oil and gas consulting firm Rystad Energy, the United States is the country with the largest volume of oil reserves, with Russia and Saudi Arabia coming in second and third, respectively.
Rystad's analysis includes oil in proven, existing fields, oil that has been discovered and will probably be recoverable, as well as an estimate for recoverable oil in as-yet discovered oil fields. More than 50% of the United States oil reserves come in the form of "unconventional shale oil," with Texas alone containing 60 million barrels of this type of fossil fuel.
When Rystad applies more conservative estimates of proven oil reserves, the United States falls to fourth place, behind Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran with just 29 billion barrels of proved reserves. The difference between this figure and America's potential capacity to extract 264 billion barrels, mostly through unconventional extraction methods, underscores the importance of new fracking technologies to the American energy future.
That said, the Rystad report also illustrates why it's critical for the U.S. to focus on developing other, renewable forms of energy. "Rystad Energy now estimates total global oil reserves at 2092 billion barrels, or 70 times the current production rate of about 30 billion barrels of crude oil per year, the report reads. "This data confirms that there is a relatively limited amount of recoverable oil left on the planet. With the global car-park possibly doubling from 1 billion to 2 billion cars over the next 30 years, it becomes very clear that oil alone cannot satisfy the growing need for individual transport."