Thanks primarily to surges in the discovery of shale oil, the United States now sits atop the world’s list in the area of oil reserves, the first time ever it’s had attained that distinction. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia now is situated in third place and the previous leader, Russia drops down to second place.
The information comes from a three-year study released on July 4 by Norwegian-based Rystad Energy, which looked at each country’s existing oil fields. Other segments that were added to that amount included new discoveries and areas that are known to contain oil but haven’t been discovered yet.
Collectively, the entire world has equivalent reserves that make up 2.1 trillion barrels, with the United States now accounting for one-eighth of that at 264 billion. Russia comes next at 256 billion, while the Saudis have a much greater hill to climb at 212 billion barrels.
Making up over 50 percent of that amount in the United States is shale oil, which had been the source of Saudi Arabia’s willingness to increase production in the wake of collapsing oil prices. Not surprisingly, the leading American area in shale oil reserves is in the state of Texas.
The Saudi strategy was calculated to bring that fledgling industry to its knees and while a number of American shale companies have gone under, many of the major players have been able to weather the financial storm.
Some controversy exists in the numbers, since other studies indicate that the United States stands no better than seventh among oil-producing nations. Rystad counters that official government numbers are less accurate, given the presence of countries like Russia and Venezuela.
Regardless of where the countries rank, the Saudis no longer have Americans literally over a barrel when it comes to oil prices.