How oil-producing countries stacked up in 2012

Oil production figures for 2012 are in. Find out how countries stacked up and why production tells only part of the story.

And the world's largest petroleum producer and net exporter in 2012 is ... drum roll, please ... Saudi Arabia.

OK, so we already knew that. The country has reigned over the oil-producing world for some time. Still, there's some interesting data to be found in this latest update released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Oil production numbers are important. But a far more telling figure is a country's net exports. For instance, Saudi Arabia produced an average 11.6 million barrels per day in 2012. It exported an estimated 8.6 million bbl/d (net) in 2012. That means the country used 3 million bbl/d at home.

Saudi Arabia's domestic consumption is growing. The country uses significant amounts of oil for electricity generation, as much as one million bbl/d during the summer months, said the EIA. Oil also is used to power desalination plants. Demand for electricity has doubled since 2000 and is expected to continue rapid growth.

That increase in domestic consumption has led the country to explore other sources for energy, including solar. Last month, Saudi Arabia completed its biggest ground-mounted photovoltaic solar plant . While the 3.5-megawatt plant doesn't come close to the some of the world’s biggest solar farms--many of which have generating capacity of 100 MW and more--it’s substantial for Saudi Arabia, which launched an ambitious multi-billion-dollar plan last year to create an industry around one of its most abundant resources, the sun.

Meanwhile, the production figures for the U.S. only tells part of the story. At first glance, it would appear the U.S. was in a commanding position. The U.S. was the second-largest petroleum producer in 2012. Unfortunately, the country uses more than it makes, so it relies on imports from countries like Canada, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria and Mexico.

Canada is still the largest and primary supplier of oil to the U.S. However, Saudi Arabia remains an important supplier, said the EIA. In 2012, 16 percent of Saudi liquids exports were to the U.S., accounting for 13 percent of total U.S. liquids imports, said the EIA.

Chart: EIA

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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