US holds more reserves than Saudi, Russia, says Rystad

A new independent estimate of world oil reserves has been released by Rystad Energy, showing that the US now holds more recoverable oil reserves than both Saudi Arabia and Russia.

For US, more than 50% of remaining oil reserves is unconventional shale oil. Texas alone holds more than 60 billion barrels of shale oil according to this new data.

Unconventional oil recovery accounts for 30% of the global recoverable oil reserves while offshore accounts for 33% of the total. The seven major oil companies hold less than 10% of the total. 

Other public sources of global oil reserves, like the BP Statistical Review, are based on official reporting from national authorities, reporting reserves based on a diverse and opaque set of standards, says Rystad. 

BP's Statistical review of World Energy, for example, shows the US having 55 billion barrels of oil proven reserves at the end of 2015, with Saudi Arabia having 266 billion and Russia 102 billion. The CIA's world fact book has Venezuala holding 298 billion proven reserves, Saudi Arabia 268 billion and the US 36 billion. 

However, Rystad says some OPEC countries like Venezuela report official reserves apparently including yet undiscovered oil, while others like China and Brazil officially report conservative estimates and only for existing fields.

Rystad says its new reserves data also distinguishes between reserves in existing fields, in new projects and potential reserves in recent discoveries and even in yet undiscovered fields. 

An established, standard approach for estimating reserves is applied to all fields in all countries, so reserves can be compared apple to apple across the world, both for OPEC and non-OPEC countries.

Rystad Energy now estimates total global oil reserves at 2092 billion barrels, or 70 X the current production rate of about 30 billion barrels of crude oil per year.

For comparison, cumulatively produced oil up to 2015 amounts to 1300 billion barrels. 

Rystad says 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 1-2 billion cars over the next 30 years, it becomes very clear that oil alone cannot satisfy the growing need for individual transport," the firm says.

Image: Chart from Rystad. 

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