Russia has taken over from Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest supplier of crude oil, according to the Riyadh based Joint Organisations Data Initiative. Russia pumped 10.49 million barrels a day in December, with Saudi Arabia just behind at 10.46 and the US third at 8.9 million barrels. Iraq came up in fourth place with 5 million barrels.
Saudi Arabia is part of the Middle Eastern- and Latin American-influenced OPEC group, which controls about 42 percent of global production and about 73 percent of known global reserves. Russia does not belong to OPEC, but has followed recent decisions to curb production, with a result being that oil prices have risen 20 percent since November.
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Russia’s position as the world’s largest single producer of crude is an interesting one as the domestic economy to date has thus far been dominated by oil and gas, an unhealthy situation for the incentive to develop other key industries.
The Russian position also demonstrates its true position in the wealth of nations, whereby a number of criteria are used to determine exactly how much wealth an individual country has. While most nations are measured by GDP output and growth, this does not cater for material wealth such as commodities, human resources, infrastructure as so on.
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The measurements can vary and are the subject of intense academic and political debate; however, the basic premise is that nations with a large land mass, proven commodity reserves, and a reasonably well educated workforce in proportion to their landmass with development infrastructure and engineering capabilities score well. Countries like Russia, Canada and Australia rank highly on these determinants.
These factors are important as they imply a future shift of balance over the coming generations in terms of power and geopolitical influence. China’s Silk Road infrastructure ambitions, for example, link Russian oilfields directly to China.