Oil production

The Middle East and North Africa are exceptionally well-endowed with energy resources, holding about 67% of the world’s proven conventional oil reserves at the end of 2014. Current oil production is relatively low in comparison to these reserves and further development of them will be critical to meeting global energy needs in the coming decades. Unconventional oil (e.g. oil shale and sands, liquid supplies based on coal and biomass, and liquids arising for the chemical processing of natural gas) is also expected to play an increasing role in meeting world demand.


Crude oil production refers to the quantities of oil extracted from the ground after the removal of inert matter or impurities. Crude oil is a mineral oil consisting of a mixture of hydrocarbons of natural origin, being yellow to black in colour, of variable density and viscosity.

Refinery production refers to the output of secondary oil products from an oil refinery. Crude oil includes all primary oils – crude oil, natural gas liquids, and other hydrocarbons, for example synthetic crude oil from tar sands, shale oil, etc.


In general, data on oil production are of high quality. In some instances, information has been based on secondary sources or estimated by the International Energy Agency (IEA).


World crude oil production has increased by 57% over the 43 years from 1971 to 2014. In 2014, production reached 3 858 million tonnes or about 76 million barrels per day. Growth was not constant over the period as production declined in the aftermath of two oil shocks in the early and late 1970s.

In 2014, the Middle East region’s share of oil production was 31% of the world total. However, both the level of production and its share in the world total varied significantly over the period, from 39% of the world total in 1974 to 19% in 1985. Increased production in the 1980s and 1990s put the OECD on par with the Middle East during that period, but by 2014, the share of OECD oil production had fallen to 23%.

In 2014, OECD crude oil production rose by 7% year-on-year, driven by strong growth in North America. In the rest of the world, most of the growth happened outside of OPEC countries (minus 0.1% for OPEC and 1% for rest of the world).

The United States has overtaken Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s leading producer of crude oil. Canada also remained in the top-five with production levels close to the ones of China. In the rest of the OECD, production by all major oil producers except Norway declined from 2013 to 2014.

With the increase in the production of United States and Canada, the five top oil-producing countries represented together nearly half (48%) of world production. OPEC member countries represented 40% of total oil production and OECD members 25%.


Further information

Analytical publications


Table. Production of crude oil


Production of crude oil by region
Thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe)