Oil is often referred to as ‘black gold’ due to its colour when harvested from the land and how valuable the commodity is. Oil is useful in many industries, and likewise, it’s become a necessity for our daily activities. Most of the finished products we see today are the end results of oil put to actions by the manufacturing sectors.

The aim of this report is to provide a comprehensive data-driven analysis of the world’s top oil stakeholders. Also, it’ll help to understand the contributions of oil to the selected countries GDP. Keep reading to find out what factors drive these countries’ positions. 

Quick highlights

  • More than four billion metric tons of oil is produced everywhere around the world. 
  • Due to vast deposits of oil, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela don’t prioritise oil imports. 
  • China, India, and the United States wrap up the top three countries prioritising oil importation. 
  • The United States is the highest consuming and producing oil country. 

Overview of the global oil industry

The global oil industry has been a cornerstone of the world’s economy. With more than four billion1 metric tons produced every year around the globe, it’s not surprising to learn that oil companies are among the largest corporations in the world. 

The oil industry encompasses exploration, production, refining, distribution, and marketing of oil and its by-products. Over the years, the industry has witnessed significant changes largely due to technological advancements, geopolitical events, environmental concerns, and market dynamics. 

Background information of the oil industry

Let’s uncover some concepts attached to the oil industry.

Oil consumption: 

This is the total volume of oil used by a country, which is usually measured in barrels per day (bpd). Factors that influence oil consumption include population size, industrialization level, and transportation needs. The US and China are the two top largest economies2 in the world, proving why they’re the largest consumers of oil in the world.

Oil production: 

Oil production involves extracting crude oil from the earth, which is refined into various products. Countries with vast oil reserves, like Saudi Arabia or Russia, often dominate in production metrics. Recently, the U.S. has taken over the total global oil production.

Oil import and export: 

The volume of oil a country brings in from other nations is referred to as oil import, while export denotes the volume it sends out. Insufficient domestic production or access to specific oil grades are reasons a country might import oil. Countries like China and India are the biggest oil importers, safe to blame this on insufficient oil supply in these countries.

Likewise, nations export oil to capitalise on their reserves and meet international demand. Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are the top oil exporters. These countries export oil more than other countries due to their high reserves advantage.

Major players in the global oil sector

Major players in the oil sector include all partakers and stakeholders contributing to the growth such as the exploration, production, refining, and distributions. These players include:


The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) holds significant influence over worldwide oil prices. This organisation, consisting of 13 member countries, was founded in Baghdad in September 19603. Among its members, five nations4 – Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela – were founding members and continue to be part of the group to this day.

Major oil companies: 

Often referred to as the ‘Big Oil’, giants such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, and TotalEnergies hold significant sway in the global market. Significantly, these companies collectively raked in revenues of 1.68 trillion U.S. dollars in 20225. Of this, ExxonMobil, hailing from the U.S., contributed a substantial 413.7 billion U.S. dollars. While ExxonMobil topped the charts in profitability for the year, Shell followed closely, registering profits of 42 billion U.S. dollars.

Emerging players: 

Nations such as Brazil, Norway, Australia, Malaysia, and Nigeria have emerged as major players in worldwide oil production. When it comes to the highest number of planned oil fields, these nations rank in the global top ten6. Specifically, Brazil boasts 18, Norway 14, both Australia and Malaysia have 9, and Nigeria has 8. This indicates that while these countries are pivotal in current global oil output, they’re, as well, investing heavily in future production capabilities. 

The subsequent sections unveil which countries stand out in the oil arena. Metrics like consumption, production, import, export, and reserves on various scales are explored. In addition, this analysis delves into the underlying factors that influence these patterns.

Sources: Statista1, Forbes India2, Wikipedia3, OPEC4, Statista5, Energy Monitor6 

The top 10 oil consumers in the world

All countries of the world consume oil, but these consumptions are largely due to some factors peculiar to each country. We present below, the top ten global oil consumers.

CountryMillion Barrels Per Day12023 Population12022 GDP (Mn USD)2
United States19,690,000339,996,56325,462,700
Saudi Arabia3,237,00036,947,0251,108,149
South Korea2,630,00051,784,0591,665,246

The U.S., China, and India are the world’s top oil consumers, with the U.S. leading as the world’s largest economy. In 2022, the U.S. had a GDP of 25,462,700 million USD. A significant portion of the U.S.’s oil dependency stems from its expansive transportation sector. In fact, in 2022, transportation accounted for 66.6% of the country’s total oil usage. Industries followed at 27.5%, households at 2.8%, commercial sectors at 2.5%, and electric power at a mere 0.5%.

China stands as the world’s second-largest economy, with a GDP nearing 17,963,171 million USD, just a few million short of the leading U.S. One significant factor behind China’s massive oil consumption is its vast population, which is also the second-highest globally at 1,425,671,352 individuals. The primary demand for oil in China stems from powering its extensive vehicle fleet and the country’s major industries.

Japan ranks among the top countries in daily fuel consumption. Its numerous industries rely heavily on oil. The nation’s population further underscores the significance of fuel use. As of August 2022, around 9% of Indians opted for remote work, highlighting the country’s reliance on transportation, which predominantly depends on oil.

top 10 oil consumers in the world

Sources: World Population Review1, World Bank Data Bank2, Energy Information Administration3

The top 10 oil producers in the world

Not all countries have crude oil as their natural resources, and equally, not all countries that are blessed with the natural resources produce oil in their various countries. The list below are the top largest countries producing oil in the world.

CountryMillion Barrels Per Day12023 Population22022 GDP (Mn USD)3
United States20,213,000339,996,56325,462,700
Saudi Arabia12,144,00036,947,0251,108,149

The United States is the number one producer of oil in the world. The country overtook Saudi and Russia to claim the top spot in 20184. In that year, the U.S. domestic industry for oil production reached ten million barrels per day, largely due to the shale boom. Since then, up until now, the nation continues to benefit from the remarkable shale boom revolution. This solidifies the country’s position as the top producer of oil.

Saudi Arabia, ranking as the second-highest oil-producing country globally, derives 46%5 of its GDP from oil production. The substantial daily output of 12,144,000 barrels is a testament to its rich natural reserves. Moreover, the vast desert landscape of the nation conceals large underground oil fields. Ghawar oil field,  the world’s largest conventional oil field, is one such example.

Russia, ranking third globally in oil production, trails just behind Saudi Arabia. The nation accounts for over 12%6 of worldwide oil output. Western Siberia, known for its vast oil reserves, is a leading global oil-producing region. From January to April 20237, oil contributed 17% to Russia’s GDP.

Top 10 oil producers in the world

Sources: Investing News Network1, World Population Review2, World Bank Data Bank3, Offshore Technology4, Trading Economics5, Statista6, Statista7 

The top 10 oil importers in the world

Different countries with different reasons for oil importations. We will emphasise on the reasons as we go further in this section. Basically, we have the top ten oil importers around the world.

CountryMetric Ton12023 Population22022 GDP (Mn USD)3
United States144.9339,996,56325,462,700
South Korea14151,784,0591,665,246

China’s GDP is largely driven by its industrial sector. In 2021, after accounting for the cost of oil production, oil contributed 0.31 percent to the country’s GDP. The primary reason China imports oil is due to its swift industrial and urban growth. Often referred to as the ‘world’s factory’, China’s manufacturing sector contributed 33.3% to its total GDP in 2022 through the industrial segment.

The metric tons of oil imported by India on a daily basis is 232.6. The country, like China, also generates most of its revenue from the industrial sector. Moreover, the expanding transportation sector, especially due to increased vehicle ownership, has further driven demand. Also, the domestic oil production in India doesn’t meet its total needs, making it heavily reliant on oil imports.

Despite being a major oil producer, the U.S. imports oil due to its vast energy requirements. The country’s extensive transportation network and diverse economy contribute to its high oil consumption. While domestic production has increased, especially from shale, the U.S. still imports around 144.9 metric tons of oil daily to meet specific needs. In 20216, Canada, 4,783,000; Mexico, 645,000; and Saudi Arabia, 550,000, are the top three countries the U.S. imported directly from.

Top 10 oil importers in the world

Sources: Ener Data1, World Population Review2, World Bank Data Bank3, The Global Economy4, 27 Group5, World Population Review6 

The top 10 oil exporters in the world

Some of the top countries around the world generate most of their countries’ revenues through oil production and exportation. The top ten oil export countries include the following:

CountryMillion Barrels Per Day12023 Population22022 GDP (Mn USD)3
Saudi Arabia11,000,00036,947,0251,108,149
United States4,500,000339,996,56325,462,700

Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States lead the list of top oil exporters, which is expected given their significant oil reserves and production capacities. However, Nigeria’s inclusion in the top ten is quite remarkable. Exporting 1.5 million barrels of oil daily, Nigeria stands as the only African representative in this elite group. The nation boasts a population exceeding 223 million and has a GDP of 477,386 million USD in 2022.

Canada is rising as a key player in oil exports. While a significant portion of its oil exports goes to the United States, European nations and China also receive substantial amounts. Canada ships over 3.5 million barrels of oil daily to its trade partners. Although oil isn’t Canada’s main revenue source, it contributes to its GDP of 2,139,840 million USD.

Venezuela ranks among the top ten oil-exporting nations. It boasts significant crude oil reserves, especially in the Orinoco Belt. While oil contributes to 25% of Venezuela’s GDP4, an astonishing 95% of its oil trade comes from exports. Major recipients5 of Venezuelan oil include Malaysia, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates.

Top 10 oil exporters in the world

Sources: SEAIR Exim Solution1, World Population Review2, World Bank Data Bank3, Investopedia4, The Observatory of Economic Territory5 

The top 10 oil reserve countries in the world

Countries’ oil reserves determine how long a country will survive with oil without importing from other countries. The list of countries with the top reserves are revealed below:

CountryBillion Barrels Reserves12023 Population22022 GDP (Mn USD)3
Saudi Arabia297.536,947,0251,108,149
United States68.8339,996,56325,462,700

Oil reserves serve as a measure of a nation’s potential for future oil production. Venezuela stands out with the most substantial oil reserves globally. With an impressive reserve of over 303.8 billion barrels of raw petroleum, the numbers suggest that if Venezuela continues to export 1.8 million barrels daily, it has enough reserves to last for approximately 14,065 years.

Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are closely matched, with Saudi Arabia holding reserves of approximately 297.5 billion barrels. In the global oil industry, Saudi Arabia emerges as a significant competitor. It ranks as the lowest in terms of oil imports, reinforcing its position as a vital and influential entity in the oil sector.

Holding 168.1 billion barrels of oil reserves, Iran is the third-largest in terms of global oil reserves. It’s also among the leading nations in both oil production and exportation. Similar to Saudi Arabia, Iran doesn’t prioritise oil imports due to its vast oil deposits. Countries like China and Afghanistan are among its primary oil export destinations.

Top 10 oil reservers in the world

Sources: World Population Review1, World Population Review2, World Bank Data Bank3


While the world is gradually shifting towards renewable energy, the importance of oil in many industries, especially the manufacturing sector, cannot be understated. Due to massive economies and industrial needs, nations like the U.S., China, and India dominate in consumption. Also, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Iran boast vast reserves, ensuring their relevance in the global oil market for years to come. 


Which country consumes the most oil in the world?

The U.S. is the country that consumes the most oil in the world. The country consumes approximately 19.6 billion barrels of oil per day. China and India follow with 11.8 and 4.4 billion barrels per day.

Which country is the largest oil producer in the world?

The United States holds the title as the world’s top oil producer, churning out an impressive 20.2 billion barrels daily. Following closely behind are Saudi Arabia and Russia, producing 12.1 and 10.9 billion barrels per day, respectively.

Which country imports the most oil in the world?

China stands as the top oil importer in the world, followed closely by India and the U.S. Their respective import volumes are 506, 232.6, and 144.9 metric tons.

Which country exports the most oil in the world?

Saudi Arabia leads the world in oil exports, dispatching 11 billion barrels daily. Following closely are Russia and the United States, exporting 6 billion barrels and 4.5 billion barrels respectively each day.

Which country has the highest reserves of oil in the world?

Venezuela leads, holding an astonishing 303.8 billion barrels. Behind is Saudi Arabia with a hefty 297.5 billion barrels, while Iran possesses 168.1 billion barrels.

Aremu Adams Adebisi graduated from college with a B.Sc in Economics. He’s pursuing his MBA while covering trending topics in trading, investment, and cryptocurrency. He’s fascinated by the surges of...

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