Top 10 Oil Exporting Countries: Key Players in the Global Oil Trade

Top 10 Oil Exporting Countries: Key Players in the Global Oil Trade

7 Min.

This article discusses the top 10 oil-exporting countries in the world, highlighting their oil production, reserves, and contributions to the global oil trade. Saudi Arabia leads the pack, followed by Russia, Canada, Iraq, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Norway, Kuwait, and Brazil.


The global oil trade is a cornerstone of the world economy, and it continues to be a critical driver of economic growth and development. In 2021, crude petroleum was the most traded product in the world by total trade value, making up 4.52% of global trade. This article explores the top 10 oil-exporting countries, providing insights into their oil production, reserves, and contributions to the global oil market.

Crude Petroleum: A Vital Resource

Crude petroleum, commonly known as crude oil, is unrefined petroleum extracted from the Earth. It serves as a fundamental raw material for a wide array of products, including gasoline, heating fuel, plastics, and numerous industrial applications. As of 2022, global oil production reached 93.9 million barrels per day, underscoring the immense scale of this industry.

Historical Leaders in Oil Exports

Historically, Saudi Arabia has been a dominant force in annual oil exports, although the hierarchy in the oil export market shifted in 2019 when the United Arab Emirates briefly overtook Saudi Arabia. In 2020, Saudi Arabia reasserted its position as the world's top oil exporter. As of 2021, Saudi Arabia continued to hold the number one position, contributing 14.5% of the world's crude petroleum exports. The United States is also a significant player, accounting for 7.11% of global exports in 2021.

A Pivotal Year: 2022

The year 2022 witnessed a seismic shift in the oil market, triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This event sent oil prices skyrocketing to over $110 per barrel, affecting the dynamics of global oil trade and prompting various countries and regions to reconsider their reliance on Russian oil.

The World's Top 10 Oil Exporters

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, a Middle Eastern oil powerhouse, led the world as the top oil exporter in 2021. Its oil exports amounted to a staggering $138 billion, constituting 14.5% of global oil exports. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia retained its status as the leading oil producer within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), producing 12.14 million barrels of oil per day, equivalent to approximately 12% of global output in 2022. Notably, Saudi Arabia possesses around 15% of the world's oil reserves, with the oil industry accounting for a substantial share of the country's exports and government revenue.


Russia secured the second spot in the global oil export rankings in 2021, contributing 11.8% of the world's oil exports, with a total value of $113 billion. Major Russian oil companies, including Rosneft, Surgutneftegas, and Gazprom, played a pivotal role in achieving this milestone. Russia's oil production reached an annual average of 10.94 million barrels per day, comprising 11% of global oil production. However, Russia's economic and political landscape became more complex due to sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union, primarily in response to its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The situation escalated further with Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, leading to even more stringent sanctions, including a ban on Russian oil imports.


Canada ranks as the world's third-largest oil exporter, with $81.2 billion in oil exports in 2021, accounting for 8.54% of the global total. Canada boasts significant oil reserves, with approximately 168 billion barrels, making it the fourth-largest reserve holder globally. A substantial portion of these reserves is concentrated in Alberta's oil sands. The strong connection between Canada's oil industry and the U.S. economy is evident, as 97% of Canadian oil exports in 2021 were directed to the United States, constituting 62% of all U.S. oil imports. Several major energy companies, including Enbridge, Suncor, and Imperial Oil, call Canada home.


Iraq secured the fourth position among global oil exporters in 2021, with oil exports totaling $72 billion, representing 7.57% of the world's oil exports. It holds the distinction of being the second-largest oil producer within OPEC, following closely behind Saudi Arabia. Iraq's oil reserves rank as the fifth-largest globally. Nevertheless, a significant challenge for Iraq is its heavy reliance on oil revenues, which accounted for an estimated 92% of government revenues in 2019.

United States

The United States stands as the fifth-largest oil exporter, with oil exports valued at $67.6 billion in 2021, making up 7.11% of global exports. The U.S. significantly boosted its oil production between 2011 and 2020. In 2022, the country's oil production reached an impressive 20.21 million barrels per day, equivalent to roughly 20% of global production, solidifying its position as the world's largest oil producer. The United States is home to several global oil giants, including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon Mobil.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The United Arab Emirates, a nation approximately the size of South Carolina, secured the sixth position in the global oil export rankings. In 2021, it exported $58.5 billion worth of oil, contributing 6.15% of global oil exports. The UAE's oil production in 2022 amounted to 4.24 million barrels per day, making up 4% of global output. The country is estimated to possess the seventh-largest oil reserves globally, with approximately 100 billion barrels. While the UAE's economy has diversified beyond oil and gas, these resources still constitute around 30% of its GDP.


Nigeria emerged as the seventh-largest oil exporter in the world in 2021, with oil exports totaling $41.8 billion, comprising 4.4% of the global total. The country boasts the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, with the bulk of its 37 billion barrels of reserves located along the Niger River Delta and offshore in the Gulf of Guinea, Bight of Benin, and Bight of Bonny.


Norway secured the eighth position in global oil exports, with exports valued at $41.5 billion in 2021, contributing 4.36% to the global oil trade. Norway boasts the largest oil reserves in Western Europe and primarily exports its oil to neighboring European countries. The oil industry is a significant contributor to the Norwegian economy, accounting for 50% of its exports and over 20% of its GDP.


Despite its small size, Kuwait remarkably ranks among the world's top oil exporters. In 2021, Kuwait contributed 4.21% of global oil exports, with oil exports amounting to $40.1 billion. The country's oil production in 2022 reached about 3.02 million barrels per day, making it the world's tenth-largest producer. Kuwait also holds the distinction of possessing the seventh-largest oil reserves globally.


Brazil rounds out the list as the tenth-largest oil exporter in the world, with oil exports reaching $30.7 billion in 2021, making up 3.23% of the global total. In 2022, Brazil's oil production reached 3.77 million barrels per day, representing 4% of the world's total production. Brazil's oil reserves, totaling 12.7 billion barrels, rank as the second-largest in South America, trailing only Venezuela.


Oil remains a highly sought-after commodity globally, playing a pivotal role in various industries and applications. The list of the world's top oil exporters is subject to change each year, influenced by factors such as the global political climate, oil prices, and the domestic economic landscape of each country. Russia held the top spot in 2021, according to the latest available data, but significant disruptions occurred when it invaded Ukraine in 2022, leading to sanctions and a shift away from Russian oil. Despite the evolving landscape, oil continues to be a valuable resource and a significant contributor to the GDP of these nations.

Saudi Arabia
United States of America (USA)
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