Some Interesting Oil Industry Statistics

Additional interesting items on the technology and history

What's on
this page?

Seven Sisters and
Standard Oil heritage
of major companies

Oil Price Chart

Largest Oil
Producing Countries

Largest US Oil Fields

Largest Oil Fields
in the World

Countries with Large Natural Gas Reserves

Largest Natural Gas Fields in the World

Sources of US Oil Imports

Where your gasoline dollars go

Plus assorted facts
in the text sections

NEW: A map showing the sources of US oil imports has been added at the bottom of the page, as well as a table showing where your gasoline dollar goes.  There's also a new link to "Largest Oil Companies," and several items have been updated.

US OIL DEMAND, 2004: Over 20 million barrels per day, up from January 2002, when demand was about 18.5 million barrels per day, = 777 million gallons. If lined up in 1-gallon cans, they would encircle the earth at the equator almost 6 times (about 147,000 miles of cans) — every day. Here's another image: EVERY DAY, the US consumes enough oil to cover a football field with a column of oil 2500 feet tall. That's 121 million cubic feet. 55-60% of US consumption is imported at a cost of $50 billion+ per year, amounting to the largest single element of our trade deficit. In summer 2004, thanks to higher prices, increased demand, and lower production, record trade deficits of more than $50 billion per month were recorded, with approximately 30% of that attributable to imported energy costs. In September 2004, the US reported its lowest monthly oil production in 55 years, at an average of 4.85 million barrels per day.

US demand for natural gas is increasing, and production in many long-time prime producing areas (e.g. the Gulf Coast) is diminishing to the point of near-total depletion. Without significant increases in drilling (well beyond anticipated levels), demand is predicted to significantly exceed supply soon. By 2000, US demand (22.2 tcf/year) exceeded production (18.7 tcf/year) enough that about 14% of our natural gas was being imported from Canada. This may provide a window of opportunity for explorationists and producers (especially smaller operators), and may improve the domestic market for geoscientists. Note that it is currently impossible (without complex liquification) to transport natural gas across oceans -- so huge gas reserves in the Nile Delta, for example, are irrelevant to US needs.

UPDATE: Hiring of newly graduated geoscientists has increased dramatically in Fall 1996. FURTHER UPDATE: The "boomlet" of 1996-97 became the bust of 1998, when the price of oil fell to below $10.00 per barrel, and thousands were laid off. By late 1999, things were looking up again. The short-term of the cycle swings is taking many people by surprise. For much of 2000-2002, prices have been fairly stable in the $20s per barrel.

US PRODUCTION, early 2002: About 5.9 million barrels of oil per day, plus about 2 million barrels of natural gas liquids and condensate; and 55 billion cubic feet of gas per day. Oil production is a decline from 8-9 million b/d in 1986.

World's other largest producers: Former USSR (once the world's largest producer) production has declined more than 30% since 1988, from more than 12 to about 8 million barrels per day. Saudi Arabia produces about 5 to 9 million barrels per day (7.3 million in early 2002; production depends more on OPEC quotas and prices than on real capability).

US Production capacity, about 8 million barrels per day, is accomplished with about 533,000 oil wells, averaging less than 17 barrels per well per day. Saudi capacity, similar at about 8-9 million barrels per day, is from 750 wells — averaging more than 12,000 barrels per well per day. The best well in the onshore 48 states is in Grant Canyon Field, Nevada, producing about 4000 barrels per day from sucrosic Devonian dolomites in a small fault block. UPDATE: 1997 discoveries in the Williston Basin are producing up to 6,000 barrels per day from Mississippian Lodgepole carbonate mounds. These are the best wells in the onshore 48 states in decades -- but the Gulf of Mexico is the US hot spot for current exploration and production.

Oil and Gas are used for much more than fuel. Every time you brush your teeth (nylon bristles), drink milk or soda from a plastic container, or play a plastic CD, THANK A GEOLOGIST!
And let's not forget that 57% of the US's electricity is still generated by burning coal -- although almost all of the rest comes from burning oil or gas.

In terms of total US energy usage, the breakdown by source is given in the following table (for late 2001):

Energy Source Percentage of total
Natural Gas
Hydro power
Solar, Wind, etc.

In contrast to US usage, France obtains about 75% of its electricity supply from nuclear energy sources.

The US oil industry lost more than 1,000,000 jobs from 1986-92, more than the more-publicized auto and steel industries combined.

Seven Sisters & Standard Oil

The original Seven Sisters were Exxon (or Esso, Humble, Standard of NJ), Shell, BP (British Petroleum, originally Burmah Oil + Anglo-Iranian), Gulf, Texaco, Mobil (Standard of NY, or Socony-Vacuum), and Chevron (Standard of California). Since Gulf Oil no longer exists (acquired by Chevron in 1984) except as Gulf Canada and a marketing company in the northeast US, Amoco (Standard of Indiana) was often added to the list of six; but in 1998, Amoco was acquired by BP to form BP Amoco, while Exxon was acquiring Mobil; and Chevron and Texaco merged in 2001-2002.


Click here for a graphical representation of the
Standard Oil heritage of several multi-national oil companies,
following the 1911 break-up of the Standard Oil Trust.

As noted above, Exxon and Mobil have merged, and BP Amoco acquired ARCO. If I have counted correctly, three companies, BP Amoco, ExxonMobil, and ChevronTexaco, combine within them no fewer than 14 of the 35 Standard Oil Trust companies that were divested from Standard in 1911. For much more, and more authoritative, information about Standard Oil and its history, visit "Whatever Happened to Standard Oil."

A 28-year oil price chart is given below.
(data from
Energy Information Administration, chart by Gibson Consulting)


In the history of the world, according to AAPG presidential address, April 1993,
       750 billion barrels have been produced.
      1000 billion barrels are known in the ground
      1000 billion barrels are estimated undiscovered

WORLD PRODUCTION/CONSUMPTION: Production in 2000-2002 was about 75 million barrels per day, about equal to the world consumption of about 27 billion barrels per year. Consumption is increasing at a faster rate than the increase in production.

20 largest oil producers as of July 1999, in million barrels per day:
(source: mostly Oil & Gas Journal, World Oil, and EIA; for 2002, includes condensate & natural gas liquids, which explains the apparent jump in US production. USA still produces about 5.9 mb/d oil.)

20 largest oil producers

Country Production Rank & Production
Early 2002
1. Saudi Arabia 7.7 million barrels/day 3. 7.7 mb/d
2. Former Soviet Union 7.1 million barrels/day 1. 8.6 mb/d
3. USA 5.9 million barrels/day 2. 8.1 mb/d
4. Iran 3.6 million barrels/day 4. 3.7 mb/d
5. China 3.2 million barrels/day 7. 3.3 mb/d
6. Norway 3.0 million barrels/day 6. 3.4 mb/d
7. Mexico 3.0 million barrels/day 5. 3.6 mb/d
8. Venezuela 2.8 million barrels/day 8. 2.8 mb/d
9. United Kingdom 2.7 million barrels/day 10. 2.6 mb/d
10. Iraq 2.5 million barrels/day 11. 2.4 mb/d
11. United Arab Emirates 2.1 million barrels/day 12. 2.2 mb/d
12. Nigeria 2.0 million barrels/day 13. 2.1 mb/d
13. Kuwait 1.9 million barrels/day 14. 1.7 mb/d
14. Canada 1.9 million barrels/day 9. 2.8 mb/d
15. Libya 1.3 million barrels/day 16. 1.4 mb/d
16. Indonesia 1.3 million barrels/day 17. 1.2 mb/d
17. Brazil 1.1 million barrels/day 15. 1.6 mb/d
18. Oman 0.9 million barrels/day 18. 1.0 mb/d
19. Egypt 0.9 million barrels/day 21. 0.75 mb/d
20. Colombia 0.8 million barrels/day 29. 0.62 mb/d

In 1996, the USA was the world's leading producer, with about 7.5 million barrels per day.

Note: Former Soviet Union production has dropped from the highest in the world, at around 12 million b/d in the late 1980s, but it has stabilized since 1993 and began to increase significantly by 1998. 86% of "former Soviet Union" production is from Russia, with Kazakstan at 7% and Azerbaijan at 3%.

The 20 countries on this list produce about 57 million b/d, about 87% of world production. OPEC countries account for about 24 million b/d, or 40% of world production.

Are you surprised to see Norway so high on this list? There are very few sedimentary rocks onshore Norway. All of this production comes from offshore, in the North Sea.

Texas contains/contained about 15 billion barrels (East Texas Field, at about 5 billion, is the largest field in the 48 states. It is a regional stratigraphic trap in Upper Cretaceous fluvio-deltaic sandstones.)

Prudhoe Bay = about 9-10 billion barrels. It is a broad culmination on the Barrow Arch, and the reservoirs are transgressive marine to non-marine conglomerates and sandstones of Triassic age. The reservoir contains a lot of gas, too.

The following table is based on various sources and is as accurate as I could make it. It represents CUMULATIVE production, not current production, PLUS estimated reserves, so it is a measure of all the oil that was/is contained in the fields. Some, such as most of the California fields, have been producing since the 1930s and are significantly depleted. Most (more than 10 billion barrels) of Prudhoe Bay's oil has been produced.


10 largest oil fields in the US

Field, State Cumulative Production
+ Est. Reserves
1. Prudhoe Bay, Alaska 10+ billion barrels
2. East Texas 6.0 billion barrels
3. Wilmington, California 2.8 billion barrels
4. Midway-Sunset, California 2.2 billion barrels
5. Kern River, California 1.95 billion barrels
6. Yates, West Texas 1.95 billion barrels
7. Wasson, Texas 1.8 billion barrels
8. Elk Hills, California 1.5 billion barrels
9. Kuparuk River, Alaska 1.5 billion barrels
10. Panhandle, Texas 1.4 billion barrels

The largest oil field in the world (Ghawar in Saudi Arabia) contains an estimated ultimate recoverable 75 billion barrels of oil, or more than seven times Prudhoe Bay, in Upper Jurassic shallow-water carbonates in a broad anticline.

Chevron is working with Kazakstan and others to develop the huge Tengiz field near the Caspian Sea (estimates run from 15 to 26 billion barrels recoverable, from what amounts to an oil-filled paleo-atoll, or reef) with a goal of producing about 700,000 barrels per day from this one field -- equal to more than 10% of the oil production of the entire United States.

Numbers in the following table are mostly ranges for estimated ultimate recoverable reserves. Sometimes you see larger numbers that represent original oil in place -- all of which cannot be produced. Some of the fields in this list are essentially completely depleted (e.g., Romashkino).

21 largest oil fields
in the World

Field, Country Size estimate
1. Ghawar, Saudi Arabia 75-83 billion barrels
2. Burgan, Kuwait 66-72 billion barrels
3. Bolivar Coastal, Venezuela 30-32 billion barrels
4. Safaniya-Khafji, Saudi Arabia/Neutral Zone 30 billion barrels
5. Rumaila, Iraq 20 billion barrels
6. Tengiz, Kazakstan 15-26 billion barrels
7. Ahwaz, Iran 17 billion barrels
8. Kirkuk, Iraq 16 billion barrels
9. Marun, Iran 16 billion barrels
10. Gachsaran, Iran 15 billion barrels
11. Aghajari, Iran 14 billion barrels
12. Samotlor, West Siberia, Russia 14-16 billion barrels
13. Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia 12 billion barrels
14. Romashkino, Volga-Ural, Russia 12-14 billion barrels
15. Chicontepec, Mexico 12 billion barrels
16. Berri, Saudi Arabia 12 billion barrels
17. Zakum, Abu Dhabi, UAE 12 billion barrels
18. Manifa, Saudi Arabia 11 billion barrels
19. Faroozan-Marjan, Saudi Arabia/Iran 10 billion barrels
20. Marlim, Campos, Brazil 10-14 billion barrels
21.Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, USA 9.9 billion barrels

Natural Gas

The largest gas fields in the world are in the West Siberian Basin (including Urengoy, Yamburg, Zapolyarnoye), and contain more gas (well over 1200 trillion cubic feet for the whole basin) than in all the known gas fields in the US, including Alaska (the US has a lot of additional gas associated with oil fields). Reservoirs are Cretaceous fluvial clastics in drape anticlines above Triassic-Jurassic horsts.

The following table shows estimated proved gas reserves for the top 12 countries. Numbers for gas reserves may be misleading, as they may or may not include "associated" gas (as in associated with oil fields). Other estimates, for example, put Canada much higher on the list. Source for both of the following tables is mostly the US Energy Information Administration, which has a very useful web site for statistics.

12 top natural gas countries
(by reserves)

Country Reserve estimate
World 4,980 trillion cubic feet
1. Russia 1,748 trillion cubic feet
2. USA 1,475 trillion cubic feet
3. Iran 742 trillion cubic feet
4. Qatar 245 trillion cubic feet
5. Abu Dhabi 188 trillion cubic feet
6. Saudi Arabia 185 trillion cubic feet
7. Venezuela 140 (maybe 450) trillion cubic feet
8. Algeria 128 trillion cubic feet
9. Turkmenistan 100 (maybe 535) trillion cubic feet
10. Kazakstan 83 trillion cubic feet
11. Canada 67 trillion cubic feet
12. Uzbekistan 60 trillion cubic feet

Specific values for gas field sizes are even harder to pin down. The following list is not necessarily in exact order and would change with other estimators; it is not perfectly clear in each case whether cumulative production or estimated remaining reserves is meant. There are some 20 fields in West Siberia that exceed 35 TCF each. Use this table as a starting point. Numbers are in trillion cubic feet (TCF) and should be viewed as ball-park figures.

22 largest natural gas fields
in the World

Field, Country Size estimate
1. Urengoy, West Siberia, Russia >275 trillion cubic feet
2. Yamburg, West Siberia, Russia prob. >200 trillion cubic feet
3. Orenburg, Volga Region, Russia prob. >200 trillion cubic feet
4. Schtockmanov, Barents Sea, Russia prob. >200 trillion cubic feet
5. North Dome, Qatar 241 trillion cubic feet
6. Umm Shaif + Abu el-Bukush, Abu Dhabi 175 trillion cubic feet
7. Zapolyarnoye, West Siberia, Russia 150+ trillion cubic feet
8. Kharasevey, West Siberia, Russia 150+ trillion cubic feet
9. Bovanenko, West Siberia, Russia 125 trillion cubic feet
10. Medvezh'ye, West Siberia, Russia 100+ trillion cubic feet
11. Hassi R'Mel, Algeria 100 trillion cubic feet
12. South Pars, Iran 100 trillion cubic feet
13. Panhandle-Hugoton, USA (TX-OK-KS) 80 trillion cubic feet
14. Groningen, Netherlands 66 trillion cubic feet
15. Ghawar Oil Field, Saudi Arabia 60 trillion cubic feet
16. North Pars, Iran 48 trillion cubic feet
17. Dauletabad-Donmez, Turkmenistan 47 trillion cubic feet
18. Karachaganak, Kazakstan 46 trillion cubic feet
19. Shatlyk, Turkmenistan 35 trillion cubic feet
20. Yashlar, Turkmenistan 27 trillion cubic feet
21. Blanco (San Juan), USA (NM) 23 trillion cubic feet
22. Gazli, Uzbekistan 20 trillion cubic feet


  In the U.S., about 35% of oil and gas production comes from reservoirs of Tertiary age (largely in the Gulf Coast and California); about 25% is from reservoirs of Pennsylvanian age (West Texas, Rockies, Midcontinent), and about 12% is from reservoirs of Cretaceous age. Sandstone reservoirs account for 70% of fields; limestone = 16%; dolomite = 11%.
The Offshore US Gulf of Mexico has become one of the "hottest" exploration areas in the world, just a few years after many had declared it the "Dead Sea" for exploration potential. Dramatic improvements in 3-D Seismic technology (increasing success rates to as much as 80%, up from less than 40%) and deepwater drilling methodology are largely the basis for this resurgence. And several very nice discoveries have not hurt one bit. Reserves in discovered deep-water (>500 meters) fields alone are estimated at nearly 1.5 billion barrels, with two fields (Shell's Mars and BP's Crazy Horse, renamed Thunder Horse) at about 100,000,000 barrels or more.

The top ten producing states by current (early 2002) daily production are Louisiana, Texas, Alaska, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Kansas, North Dakota, and Mississippi. Illinois is not a present-day big producer, but until about 1970, Illinois was the 4th largest cumulative producer of oil (after TX, LA, and OK).

IN 1994, U.S. OIL IMPORTS EXCEEDED 50% OF CONSUMPTION FOR THE FIRST TIME. In 1999, US imports were about 11 million barrels per day, compared to our domestic production of 6 million barrels per day. You do the math.


The Map below is based on data from Energy Information Administration for December, 1999. Note that the "Big Four"—Saudi Arabia, Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela—alternate their ranks fairly often. Some months Venezuela is No. 1, sometimes it is Canada. Something like 15% of our imports come from each of these countries. (Note: on the map, 250 million barrels and 54% refer to our total imports, including the 10% that comes from countries not indicated, such as Kuwait, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, and Indonesia.)

One barrel of crude oil makes about 19½ gallons of gasoline, 9 gallons of fuel oil, 4 gallons of jet fuel, and 11 gallons of other products, including lubricants, kerosene, asphalt, and petrochemical feedstocks to make plastics. The ultimate cost of a gallon of gas at the service station depends mostly on the price of crude oil, and most of the profit after expenses goes to the owner-producers of the oil, whether they are governments or oil producing companies. The following table shows an approximate breakdown of the costs that go into a gallon of gas in the US. Almost everywhere in the world outside the US, people pay MUCH more for gasoline, largely because of much larger government taxes, which amount to around $3 to $4 per gallon in many European countries. In the categories "Production cost" and "Producer profit" the values show a range from Saudi Arabian production to USA production. Naturally, all the other values may vary some as well; these are general estimates.


Costs to produce and sell a gallon of gasoline in the US

Expense Amount
Production cost 15¢ to 60¢
Producer profit 53¢ to 8¢
Refining cost 13¢
Marketing cost
Transportation cost 15¢
Retailer cost
Refiner, marketer,
transp. & retailer profit
US Taxes 19¢
Average state taxes 23¢
TOTAL $1.59

If you're paying less than $1.59, it probably means that the independent gas dealer on the corner is only getting a profit of 1¢ or 2¢ a gallon rather than the 5¢ or 6¢ average, or else the price of oil has gone down and the owner-producers' profits are less. A higher cost may mean it is summer, when special refining is required for oxygenated fuels, and it costs more to produce more for increased demand.

Thanks to Dick Gibson

Gibson Consulting, 301 N. Crystal St., Butte, MT 59701
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