For decades, the oil market has been dominated by Saudi Arabia, because it not only produced the most oil on a daily basis but also controlled the most oil underground. Those oil resources, known as reserves, gave the country leverage because it could ramp its output up or down to respond to market conditions. It often used that advantage to keep oil prices at a level of its choosing by putting pressure on other members of OPEC to follow its lead.
That said, there's a new kid it town that, thanks to advances in drilling technology, now has more reserves than the Saudis. That surprising newcomer is none other than the United States of America, which, according to one estimate, has the world's largest oil reserves.
Drilling down into the numbersAccording to a report by energy consultancy Rystad Energy, the U.S. holds 264 billion barrels of oil reserves, which includes oil from existing fields as well as a projection of oil from yet-to-be-discovered fields. Rounding out the top five are Russia (256 billion barrels), Saudi Arabia (212 billion), Canada (167 billion), and Iran (143 billion). Rystad found that the U.S. had already discovered 109 billion barrels of the reserves it used for its estimates.