The Worldwide Spread of Oil


When we think of oil, the part of the world that comes to our mind first may be the Middle East. But petroleum development takes place all over the world.

Nigeria , for example, is the largest oil producer in Africa and the eleventh largest producer in the world. Russia is the world's second largest exporter of oil and the top exporter of natural gas. But the country that produces and exports more oil than any other is Saudi Arabia. The Saudis hold one-fourth of the world's oil reserves.

Last year, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries produced about twenty-eight percent of the world's oil supply and held about fifty-five percent of known reserves.

The other Gulf producers are Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Iran has ten percent of the world's oil reserves. Iraq is also estimated to have a large supply of oil, and unexplored areas may hold much more.

In nineteen sixty Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela formed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Today OPEC has twelve members. The newest is Angola which joined this year. High oil prices have brought new attention to OPEC. Its members produce about forty percent of the world's oil. But two of the world's top three oil exporters, Russia and Norway, are not OPEC members.



Its influence reached a high point during the oil crisis in the 1970s. Arab oil producers boycotted the United States, Western Europe and Japan because they supported Israel.

Since then, new discoveries and increased production in areas including countries of the former Soviet Union have provided more oil.

National oil companies are estimated to control about eighty percent of the world's oil supply.   In recent years, rising oil prices have led more governments to act, either directly or indirectly, to take control of their oil industries.

President Hugo Chavez has moved to nationalize oil operations in Venezuela. And in Russia, a series of actions resulted in state-owned Rosneft gaining control of reserves held by Yukos. Yukos was Russia's largest private company, until the government said it owed billions of dollars in taxes and put its founder, Russia's richest man, into prison.





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  • attention = interest
  • boycott = not give a country something
  • comes to our mind = something that we think of
  • development = growth, expansion
  • discovery = to find something for the first time
  • estimate = guess
  • former = past, ex-
  • founder = the person who started something
  • gain = get
  • influence = power, strength
  • known = that we know of
  • move = here: to take action
  • nationalize = when the government takes control of something or buys something
  • owe = to give someone back the money that they have lent you
  • petroleum = oil
  • provide = to give
  • recent = in the last few …
  • reserves = a supply of something that we could get if needed
  • series of actions = many events
  • state owned = it belongs to the government
  • supply = the amount that we have
  • support = help
  • top = here: the biggest
  • unexplored = places that nobody knows of yet