15 Largest Oil Fields in the World

·8 min read

In this article, we take a look at 15 largest oil fields in the world. If you want to see more largest oil fields in the world, go directly to 5 Largest Oil Fields in the World.

Oil fields are areas where there is substantial oil in multiple oil reservoirs that are trapped by impermeable rock above. In oil reservoirs, oil exists as tiny droplets inside open spaces called pores inside rocks. Given the pressure that exists deep beneath the surface, oil can squeeze through tiny pores of underground rock. Furthermore, given the earth's natural heat deep below ground in some fields, oil also wants to squeeze to the areas above.

The Department of Energy describes the process, "Oil in a reservoir acts something like the air in a balloon. The pressure comes from millions of tons of rock lying on the oil and from the earth’s natural heat that builds up in an oil reservoir and expands any gases that may be in the rock. The result is that when an oil well strikes an underground oil reservoir, the natural pressure is released—like the air escaping from a balloon. The pressure forces the oil through the rock and up the well to the surface."

Some oil fields are offshore while others are onshore. Many oil fields also produce natural gas, although the total mix of oil and gas can vary substantially from oil field to oil field. Depending on their location and geology, the cost to extract oil from oil fields can vary as well. For those of you interested, check out 15 Countries That Produce the Most Oil in the World.

Many of the world's largest oil fields are in the Middle East as several countries in the region have substantial reserves of oil. Many of the world's most economical to extract oil fields are also in the Middle East given the region's favorable geology.

Because they have operational expertise and capital, big oil companies like Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) sometimes help nations develop some of their oil fields. In addition to extracting oil from oil fields, oil companies also have to transport the oil often through pipeline to export facilities or to refineries that do further processing.

The World's Largest Oil Fields

In terms of the world's largest oil fields, some of the largest oil fields have already produced a lot of oil like China's Daqing Field which began full scale production in 1963. Meanwhile others like Kazakhstan's Kashagan Field are relatively new.

Given their size and the importance of oil, some of the world's largest oil fields are also important to the global economy. The world's largest oil field, Saudi Arabia's Ghawar Field, for instance, produces around 4 million barrels of oil per day, accounting for well over 1/3 of Saudi Arabia's total production. Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter of oil in the world, with crude oil exports of 7.28 million barrels per day in November of 2022. For those of you interested, check out Top 20 Oil Exporting Countries in 2023.

Crude Oil

In terms of crude oil, the price of the commodity has fallen recently as economists worry of an economic slowdown as a result of the recent Silicon Valley Bank failure. If oil prices decline, companies like Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) might not be as profitable as they could have been.

In the longer term, the world will need to reduce its dependence on crude oil as a transportation fuel to reduce carbon emissions. In the near and medium terms, however, the world is expected to continue to need crude oil for transportation and for many refined crude products.

In terms of oil prices, it isn't clear where they will go as many factors can influence the oil price.

Methodology

For our list of 15 Largest Oil Fields in the World, we used Stacker's Largest oil fields in the world list and data from Stacker. Given the company's calculations, it isn't clear whether the data is barrels of oil or barrels of oil equivalent, which could include natural gas.

Stacker includes cumulative past production in its oil field size data. Because some mega oil fields have already produced much of their oil, they don't have as much future production capability but nevertheless still rank on our list.

We ranked the oil fields based on the total reserves based on cumulative past and future production potential.

15 Largest Oil Fields in the World

15. Marun Field

Total Oil Reserves Based on Cumulative Past Production and Future Production Potential: 22 billion barrels

Country: Iran

Iran was the eighth largest producer of oil in 2021 with production of 3.6 million barrels per day in the year. As the country's second largest producing oil field, Marun Field is one reason why. Discovered in 1963, the oil field produced around 1 million barrels per day at its peak in the 1970's and the field still produces around 600,000 barrels of oil per day according to a Bloomberg article in 2020.

14. Samotlor Field

Total Oil Reserves Based on Cumulative Past Production and Future Production Potential: 25 billion barrels

Country: Russia

Russia is an energy superpower with substantial oil and gas reserves. As far as oil fields go, Samotlor Field is the country's largest oil field with 25 billion barrels of cumulative past production and future production potential. Like Marun Field, Samotlor Field is an oil field that has already produced a lot of oil. At its peak, the field produced around 3 million barrels per day in the 1980's.

13. Prudhoe Bay

Total Oil Reserves Based on Cumulative Past Production and Future Production Potential: 25 billion barrels

Country: United States

Prudhoe Bay is America's largest oil field in terms of total oil reserves when including cumulative past oil production. The Alaskan oil field has been active for over four decades and still has over 800 active wells. Although production in Prudhoe Bay is declining and well below its peak in the 1980's, U.S. oil production has nevertheless increased over the years, ranking the country #1 in the world in terms of oil production in 2021 with 16.59 million barrels per day produced in 2021.

12. Tengiz Field

Total Oil Reserves Based on Cumulative Past Production and Future Production Potential: 26 billion barrels

Country: Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan's Tengiz Field ranks #12 on our list of 15 Largest Oil Fields in the World given its total oil reserves of 26 billion barrels based on past and future production. Tengiz Field is the country's highest oil producing field with official capacity of 600,000 barrels per day as of 2022. With a planned expansion, however, the oil field could have oil production capacity of 850,000 barrels per day by 2024.

11. Kashagan Field

Total Oil Reserves Based on Cumulative Past Production and Future Production Potential: 30 billion barrels

Country: Kazakhstan

Kashagan Field is another giant oil field in Kazakhstan with substantial oil reserves. According to estimates, the Kashagan Field could have 30 billion barrels of oil reserves when including cumulative past production, ranking it among the largest in the world. As a country, Kazakhstan had total oil production of around 1.6 million barrels per day in 2022 and S&P Global Platts Analytics expects Kazakhstan's oil output to reach 2 million barrels per day in 2024 and 2.6 million barrels per day by 2030.

10. Aghajari Field

Total Oil Reserves Based on Cumulative Past Production and Future Production Potential: 30.2 billion barrels

Country: Iran

Aghajari Field in Iran is one of the oldest big oil fields in the world given it was first discovered in 1938. Although it has total oil reserves based on cumulative past production and future production potential of 30.2 billion barrels, much of the oil in Aghajari Field has already been produced.

9. Bolivar Coastal Field

Total Oil Reserves Based on Cumulative Past Production and Future Production Potential: 32 billion barrels

Country: Venezuela

Venezuela's Bolivar Coastal Field is the country's largest oil field and also one of the oldest given it was discovered in 1917. According to Stacker, Bolivar Coastal Field has total oil reserves based on cumulative past production and future production potential of 32 billion barrels.

8. Cantarell Field

Total Oil Reserves Based on Cumulative Past Production and Future Production Potential: 35 billion barrels

Country: Mexico

Cantarell Field is comprised of four fields that was first discovered in 1972. Given the oil field has already produced a lot of oil, production in Cantarell Field is declining and the oil field was surpassed in 2009 as the biggest oil field in Mexico in terms of production.

7. Safaniya Oil Field

Total Oil Reserves Based on Cumulative Past Production and Future Production Potential: 37 billion barrels

Country: Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's Safaniya Oil Field is one of the two largest offshore oil fields in the world along with UAE's Upper Zakum Oil Field. According to Reuters, Safaniya Oil Field had production capacity of over 1 million barrels per day in 2019 and mainly produces heavy oil. It ranks #7 on our list of 15 Largest Oil Fields in the World given its total oil reserves of 37 billion barrels when including cumulative past production.

6. Daqing Field

Total Oil Reserves Based on Cumulative Past Production and Future Production Potential: 42 billion barrels

Country: China

Daqing Field is China's largest oil field that still produces around a third of the country's total oil despite entering full scale production in 1963. Given its growing large economy and insufficient domestic oil production, China is the world's largest importer of oil and production from Daqing Field helps reduce imports. For those of you interested, check out Top 20 Oil Importing Countries in 2023.

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Disclosure: None. 15 Largest Oil Fields in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.