Energy Production Worldwide: Who Leads in Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas?

We can thank electricity for many things, including that you’re reading this page right now. In fact, there’s a good chance the device you’ve used to access this site is running on energy created by oil, coal, natural gas, or uranium. (A small percentage of you may live in a windmill, or have a hand crank charger). Transportation, manufacturing, and most industries count on continued energy production. That varies by country, of course. Some are rich in natural resources that leads to one or more of these major energy sources. And a few are rich in most or all of them, as you’ll see on the map and in the analysis below.

View Oil, Coal, Natural Gas, and Uranium World Leaders in a full screen map

Like all BatchGeo maps, you can interact with the map markers to see the underlying data. Another powerful way to understand the data beneath is to use the grouping and filtering feature to find trends. By default, we’re showing the Rank Average, which takes a non-weighted sum of each country’s rank. For example, the United States is ranked third in oil, second in coal, first in natural gas, and ninth in uranium. That country’s ranked average is 3.75.

Top 10 Countries By Energy Production

Top energy producers

  1. Russia (#1 in oil)
  2. United States (#1 in natural gas)
  3. China (#1 in coal)
  4. Canada (#2 in uranium)
  5. Kazakhstan (#1 in uranium)
  6. Australia (#3 in uranium)
  7. India (#3 in coal)
  8. Brazil (#10 in oil)
  9. Ukraine (#10 in uranium)
  10. Romania (#14 in uranium)

If we eliminated uranium, Indonesia would not only be in the top 10, but climb to fifth in the rankings. The southeast Asian nation is #5 in coal production and #11 for natural gas. Other specialized energy producers that don’t make the overall top 10 are:

  • Saudi Arabia (#2 in oil)
  • Iran (#3 in natural gas, #6 in oil)
  • Iraq (#4 in oil)
  • Qatar (#5 in natural gas)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those Middle Eastern nations are so rich in oil and natural gas, they don’t rank as high with coal or uranium. We’ll see them all again in the next section.

Top 10 Oil-Producing Countries

When we think of energy production, oil is the first thing that springs to mind for many. Here are the top 10 by number of barrels produced per day.

Russian oil field

  1. Russia (10,250,000)
  2. Saudi Arabia (10,050,000)
  3. United States (8,744,000)
  4. Iraq (4,836,000)
  5. China (3,938,000)
  6. Iran (3,920,000)
  7. Canada (3,652,000)
  8. United Arab Emirates (3,188,000)
  9. Kuwait (3,000,000)
  10. Brazil (2,624,000)

As mentioned previously—and you’ve likely anticipated—the Middle East covers half of the top 10. However, Russia narrowly edged out Saudi Arabia for the top spot, based on 2016 numbers. The U.S. rounds out the top three, followed by Iraq and China.

A couple surprising entrants in the top 10 are Canada and Brazil, both countries large in size. Canada, for example, is second only to Russia in square miles, but is 38th in population.

Top 10 Coal-Producing Countries

If you considered the popularity of energy sources by the frequency they’re written about in the news, coal would likely be second to oil. Here are the top 10 coal producers by million tonnes.

Pile of coal in China

  1. China (3,747)
  2. United States (812.8)
  3. India (677.5)
  4. Australia (484.5)
  5. Indonesia (392)
  6. Russia (373.3)
  7. South Africa (252.1)
  8. Germany (184.3)
  9. Poland (135.5)
  10. Kazakhstan (106.5)

The U.S. (#2) could quadruple its production and still be second to China’s incredible coal production. This is the only category where the overall leader, Russia (#6), drops out of the top five, an order of magnitude behind China.

Top 10 Natural Gas-Producing Countries

Like oil and coal, natural gas is a fossil fuel. However, as the name states, it is a gas. By contrast, oil is a liquid and coal is a solid. Due to already being in a purer form, natural gas burns much cleaner than its fellow fossil fuels. Here are the top 10 natural gas producers by billion cubic meters.

Natural gas well in the United States

  1. United States (728.2)
  2. Russia (578.7)
  3. Iran (255.5)
  4. Canada (143.1)
  5. Qatar (133.2)
  6. Norway (114.7)
  7. China (107.2)
  8. Saudi Arabia (103.2)
  9. Algeria (82.76)
  10. Netherlands (80.78)

The only category where the U.S. is number one, natural gas has historically been most prominent in the southwest and up through Wyoming and Colorado. Fracking technology has led to Pennsylvania and West Virginia being large producers in the last 10 years.

Again, the Middle East has a strong showing. Iran ranks higher in natural gas production than oil. Qatar, Norway, Algeria, and the Netherlands all make the top 10 in natural gas, but did not make the same list for oil. The closest is Norway at 13th and the lowest is Netherlands, 51st on the oil producers list.

What is a “Cubic Meter” of Gas?

As you might imagine, measuring a gas is more difficult than a liquid or solid. Temperature and pressurization both have an effect on how much gas fits into a cubic meter. Therefore, there are international standards governed by the International Energy Agency. When measuring the volume of natural gas, it must be at 15 °C (59 °F) at atmospheric pressure.

Top 10 Uranium-Producing Countries

The least popular of the four energy sources we’ve covered, nuclear power has a checkered past. From concerns about nuclear weapons powers to catastrophic meltdowns that cause issues for generations, uranium production is not as common as the others. That said, the top three countries overall each make an appearance in these top 10 countries by tonnes of uranium.

Power plant in Kazakhstan

  1. Kazakhstan (23,800)
  2. Canada (13,325)
  3. Australia (5,654)
  4. Niger (4,116)
  5. Russia (3,055)
  6. Namibia (2,993)
  7. Uzbekistan (2,385)
  8. China (1,616)
  9. United States (1,256)
  10. Ukraine (1,200)

At almost two times China’s production, Kazakhstan leads the way. The former Soviet country is both a major exporter, as well as having one of the largest reserves. The country is also a major producer of fossil fuels, which puts it fifth overall. In fact, only three of the top 10 uranium producers don’t make the top 10 overall: Niger, Namibia, and Uzbekistan.

Create a Map of World Leaders

Plotting data on a map is one of the best ways to understand the story in the numbers. Find a table of data on Wikipedia or a government website, and it could be mapped with a simple copy and paste. We show details in our open data mapping tutorial.

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