US oil reserves surpass Saudi, Russia

Oslo-based Rystad Energy estimates the US now has 264 billion barrels of recoverable oil



The United States now holds more recoverable oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and Russia, according to a new report.

Norway-based Rystad Energy estimates the US now has 264 billion barrels of recoverable oil from existing fields, discoveries and undiscovered areas compared to 212 billion for Saudi Arabia and 256 billion for Russia.

The consulting firm’s analysis of 60,000 fields worldwide conducted over a three-year period shows total global oil reserves at 2.1 trillion barrels, or 70 times the current production rate of 30 billion barrels a year.

Unconventional oil was found to account for 30 per cent of global recoverable reserves, with offshore accounting for 33 per cent. The seven largest global oil companies hold 10 per cent of the total, according to the firm.

Of the US reserves, more than 50 per cent are estimated to be in the form of unconventional shale oil, with Texas alone believed to hold some 80 billion barrels.

The US shale boom was the catalyst for the drop in oil prices since 2014, when Saudi Arabia led an OPEC policy of increasing production to price out unconventional producers.

The resulting surplus saw prices drop below $30 a barrel earlier this year before recovering to around $50 in recent months.

Read: Brexit has had a ‘limited impact’ on oil prices so far

Rystad said its estimates were different to other sources like the BP Statistical Review, which are based on official reporting from national authorities.

“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,” it said.

Rystad also warned that its estimates suggested there was 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,” the firm said.