Oil refineries
An oil refinery
Country 2003 proved reserves
(billion barrels)
Saudi Arabia 261.7
Iraq 115.0
Iran 100.1
Kuwait 98.9
United Arab Emirates 63.0
Russia 58.8
Venezuela 53.1
Nigeria 32.0
Libya 30.0
China 23.7
Proven oil reserves of the top ten coutnries.
Source: Energy Information Administration

Oil took millions of years to form and the oil supplies in the ground won't last for ever.

The oil fields already discovered hold over 1 million million barrels of oil (1,000,000,000,000). Nearly all of it is in the Middle East.

If no more oil were to be found and we carried on using oil at exisitng rates, then the reserves would last for another 40 years.

However, oil companies are always finding new oil fields and there are still lots more deep sea areas to explore. At the moment, the world uses about 26,000,000,000 barrels every year.

Although we are using oil quite quickly, the reserves go up every year. This is because more oil is discovered and new ways are found of extracting oil that couldn't be got out before. So the figure of forty years is a minimum and oil should last for longer than that. However, it is still a finite resource.

Here are some facts:

  • The UK uses a football stadium full of oil every day.
  • The oil the world uses in a year weighs the same as 3 billion cars.
  • The USA uses the most oil.
  • Oil is measured in barrels - the same as whiskey.
  • In the UK, 80% of the price of petrol is tax.
Country 2003 consumption
(billion barrels)
United States 7.30
China 2.04
Japan 1.97
Germany 0.95
Russia 0.94
India 0.82
South Korea 0.81
Canada 0.80
Brazil 0.78
France 0.77
Mexico 0.77
Consumption during the year 2003.
Source: Energy Information Administration