The Petroleum Dilemma
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The Petroleum Dilemma

Besides the complex political issues behind the series of riots in the Arab world and the Middle East, some economics help explain why the strain that has spread worldwide since the conflict began. One of them is the fact that almost 80% of world oil reserves are controlled by the countries of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Besides the complex political issues behind the series of riots in the Arab world and the Middle East, some economics help explain why the strain that has spread worldwide since the conflict began. One of them is the fact that almost 80% of world oil reserves are controlled by the countries of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the 12 OPEC member countries, seven are Arabs and there is still Iran, important Middle Eastern country.

According to information from the organization itself, member countries have reserves equivalent to 1.06 trillion barrels of oil. Of the 10 countries with the largest oil reserves in the world, six are located in the region of conflict. Among them, Libya, which today has the most delicate political situation. There are more than a week people have come out into the streets to demand the resignation of Dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The opposition demonstrations have been harshly repressed by the leader of the country, leading to bloody conflicts. Libya holds 4.4% of OPEC reserves, with 46.4 billion barrels of oil.

Regional instability has a direct impact on oil prices worldwide. As the violence increases in Libya, analysts expect prices to increasing oil prices in the markets. It was even talk that the value of oil could reach such high levels that are comparable to the period of the Gulf War in 1980.

In addition to Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are among the countries in line with the wildfire responsible for the explosions of unrest in the Arab world. All of them are among the main producers and exporters of oil. See the slides below, which are the countries with the largest reserves in the world.

Brazil currently has a reserve of approximately 14 billion barrels. Considering the estimates that oil from the pre-salt will raise this amount to approximately 28 billion, the country can reach the 12th spot in the rankings, overtaking the United States (19.1 billion barrels) and Qatar (25.3 billion barrels).

1 - Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, according to the latest data from OPEC, 2009. The country holds 25% of all stocks of the commodity export cartel. This amount equals approximately 264 billion barrels of oil. The photo shows a Saudi delegation at the OPEC conference.

2 - Venezuela

One of the scenarios chosen by President Hugo Chavez for the transmission of his program "Alô Presidente" emphasizes the richness of Venezuela. In the background, trucks are driven with oil derivatives. The country has the second largest oil reserve in the world, equivalent to 19.8% of the entire amount that the OPEC nations have. According to OPEC, the Venezuelans have 211.17 billion barrels of oil.

3 - Canada

Among the 10 countries with the largest oil reserves in the world, only three are not members of OPEC. Canada, with the third highest amount of the commodity in its territory is one of them. The country has a number of oil equivalents to 178 billion barrels, according to the cartel of exporting countries.

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