Oil is quite possibly the single most important commodity in the modern world economy.  Those countries with abundant sources of the valuable substance are in a strong position to trade with producers around the world who cannot do business without it.  CNBC has put together a list of the top fifteen countries in terms of confirmed oil reserves.  The ramifications of this list are much greater than they may initially seem. 

Oil is one commodity that is not evenly distributed globally.  Large clusters occur in the Middle East, Gulf of Mexico, and a few other scattered areas around the world.  Those countries that are lucky enough to control these supplies have a strong bargaining position with others by default.

The United States government estimates that confirmed world oil supplies total roughly 1.35 trillion barrels.  Saudi Arabia, with 259.9 billion barrels makes up almost 20% of the world capacity.  The United States, although the world’s largest economy, only takes fourteenth on this list with less than two percent of the world total.  This discrepancy puts great importance on the worldwide markets for trading crude oil and also has significant political implications on the relationships between such nations.

From largest to smallest, the top five countries with the most accessible confirmed oil reserves are:

1. Saudi Arabia:  259.9 billion barrels
2. Canada:  175.2 billion barrels
3. Iran:  137.6 billion barrels
4. Iraq:  115 billion barrels
5. Kuwait:  101.5 billion barrels

The complete list is available here.

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