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Largest oil fields in the world

Posted by: Mark Burslem

In order to meet the world’s growing demand for energy, oil and gas companies invest heavily in developing their oil fields. However, with resources declining – which oil fields have the most left? WRS investigates.

10 – Aghajari Field, Iran: past and future oil reserves – 30.2 billion

Iran’s Aghajari Field was discovered in 1938, it is one of the oldest oil fields on our list and is owned by the National Iranian Oil Company. Due to sanctions imposed on Iran, Iran is limited to trading oil with China and Syria, Aghajari produced just 200,000 barrels a day in 2019 which is down from 440,000 barrels in 2017.

9 - Bolivar Coastal Field, Venezuela: past and future oil reserves – 32 billion

Discovered in 1917, the Bolivar Coastal Field is Venezuela’s biggest. Located off the edge of Lake Maracaibo, the field produced approximately 3 million barrels a day in 2006. However, due to sanctions and civil unrest the country’s oil exports have been reduced to its lowest level in 75 years.

8 - Cantarell Field, Mexico: past and future oil reserves – 35 billion

The Cantarell Field was discovered in 1972 by fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico and was formed as a result of a meteor shower. The Cantarell Field is composed of four oil fields, production at Cantarell has steadily fallen over the last 20 years, however nitrogen injections have aided increased outputs. The Cantarell oil field is owned and operated by Pemex who are state-run.

7 - Safaniya Oil Field, Kuwait / Saudi Arabia: past and future oil reserves – 37 billion

Operated and owned by state-run Saudi Aramco – the Safaniya oil field is the biggest offshore oil field in the world. At present the service facilities and platforms are undergoing mass upgrades to help the oil field maintain its output capacity, which was over 1 million barrels a day. In 2014 two oil fields in the neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were shut down for political and environmental reasons. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia agreed to re-open the fields and their 500,000 barrels a day capacity in December 2019.

6. Daqing Field, China: past and future oil reserves – 42 billion

The Daqing field was discovered in 1959 and went into full-scale production in 1963 and is China’s largest oil field and accounts for one-third of China’s overall crude output. Oil output has fallen by 20% since 2008 whilst the fields operator – PetroChina, was rocked by scandal in 2013 and a disaster in 2015. However, in 2018 the field saw an increase in natural gas output by 10%.

5. Upper Zakum Oil Field, UAE - past and future oil reserves - 50 billion

Owned by the Japan Oil Development Corporation, ADNOC, and ExxonMobil the Zakum oil field is the world’s second biggest offshore oil field. At present the facility is undergoing a $10 billion construction project with the aim of increasing production of the facility to one million barrels a day by 2024. The Zakum oil field is made up of four man-made islands with the largest measuring 135 football pitches!

4. Gachsaran Field, Iran: past and future oil reserves – 52.9 billion

The Gachsaran Field is Iran’s second largest oil field and has been in operation since 1930, it is owned by the National Iranian Oil Company – the oil field produces around 560,000 barrels a day. The oil field is environmentally conscious using devices to eliminate burnoff and potential oil spills. In 2019 the Iranian Government announced that the oil fields in southern Iran, including Gachsaran will be reducing flare gas waste to zero by 2022.

3. Ahvaz Field, Iran: past and future oil reserves – 65 billion

The Ahvaz field is Iran’s largest oil field, despite Iran announcing the discovery of a 53 billion field in 2019. The field has been operating since 1954 and is owned by the National Iranian Oil Company. In 2016 the field produced 750,000 barrels of oil a day.

2. Burgan Field, Kuwait: past and present oil reserves – 67.2 billion

Operated and owned by the Kuwait Oil Company, the Burgan Field is the world’s biggest sandstone oil field. Back in 2018 the oil field was producing 1.68 million barrels of oil a day. The Burgan field accounts for over half of Kuwait’s oil production.

1. Ghawar Field, Saudi Arabia: past and present oil reserves – 96 billion

Spanning 2,000 square miles the Ghawar oil field is the worlds largest oil field in terms of reserves and daily oil production. The Ghawar oil field is run and operated by Saudi Aramco which was revealed as the world’s most profitable company back in 2018 with $111 billion profits. The oil field rolls out an eye watering four million barrels per day (down from its peak of five million barrels of oil a day), this eye watering level of production accounts for approximately 6% of the world’s daily output.

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