Oasis in the Desert: Wealth in the Sand

Oasis Oil

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For millennia much of the middle east has held some of the world’s greatest concentrations of wealth. To outsiders it’s one big desert. To the insiders, it’s the opulence of the East.


People have lived there the longest
Control of trade routes most lucrative
Massive regions of untapped natural resources

The Richest: Ancient Persian Empire

Size of empire: 3.1 million miles squared
Continents spanned: Asia, Africa, and Europe

The armory and treasury of the Persians at Persepolis was the ancient world’s greatest concentration of wealth.
Home to 120,000 talents of bullion
1 talent = 60 lbs of bullion
Or 9 man-years of skilled work
1 silver talent could hire a 200+ man trireme crew for a month
Including: 25 officers and sailors[4]
4 archers
14 spearmen
170 rowers
–In total, enough to hire 10,000 trireme crews for a year.

The Biggest: The Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 A.D.)

Size of empire: 5.1 million miles squared
Continents Spanned: Asia, Africa, Europe
Inhabitants: 34,000,000
At the time, this second caliphate after Muhammad’s death was the world’s largest empire.

And today: the most POWERful

OPEC nations of the middle east hold 81% of the world’s crude oil reserves.
Non-OPEC countries=277 billion barrels = 19%
OPEC countries=1,200 billion barrels = 81%

The numbers below are pretty big, here’s some perspective:
Oil:[16] At $104 per barrel (2014 average estimate) a million barrels a day =
$728 million a week
$2.9 billion a month
And $35 billion a year
(1 million barrels a day is 1/11 of what Saudi Arabia produces)
(Another way to put it in perspective: Nearly every country listed below produces oil at a rate greater than this)

Natural Gas:

It takes your average well 3,000 days to pump one billion feet of natural gas.
…And most countries below are pumping trillions

Qatar is tiny, at roughly the size of Connecticut, but it’s the world’s largest liquified natural gas exporter in the world.
Oil wealth per capita:$6.01 million per capita
Oil Production thousand barrels per day: 2,032
Natural Gas Billions of Cubic Feet: 5,193

At half the size of Maryland, Kuwait’s a small place, but it has the 6th largest oil reserves in the world.
Oil wealth per capita: $4.14 million per capita
Oil Production Thousands of barrels per day: 2,796
Natural Gas in Billions of Cubic Feet: 477.92

United Arab Emirates
At the size of South Carolina, the UAE manages to be one of the world’s largest consumers and producers of petroleum in the world.
Oil wealth per capita: $1.63 million per capita
Oil Production in Thousands of barrels per day: 3,213
Natural Gas in Billions of Cubic Feet: 1847

Perhaps not what you think of when you think of black gold, this nation bordering the Caspian Sea has some of the world’s largest dry natural gas, and is the 6th largest natural gas reserve holder in the world.
Oil wealth per capita: $1.54 million per capita
Oil Production in Thousands of barrels per day: 244
Natural Gas in Billions of Cubic Feet: 2338

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia holds 1/5th of the world’s proven oil reserves. Ghawar field, one oil field has more proven oil reserves than all but seven other countries in the world.
Oil wealth per capita: $1.12 million per capita
Oil Production in Thousands of barrels per day: 11,725
Natural Gas in Billions of Cubic Feet: 3,258

Though the civil war of 2011 disrupted oil production, Libya is home to Africa’s largest proved oil reserves.
Oil wealth per capita: $861,101 per capita
Oil Production Thousand barrels per day: 1,483
Natural Gas Billion Cubic Feet: 277

Since 2012 Iraq has been the second largest producer of crude oil in OPEC, and the fifth largest reserve holder of crude oil in the world. Due to instability and lack of infrastructure, a majority of Iraqi natural gas is flared, the country is taking steps to use its natural gas in power generation instead.
Oil wealth per capita:$515,384 per capita
Oil Production in Thousands of barrels per day: 2,986
Natural Gas in Billions of Cubic Feet: 31.08

Oasis Oil


  1. http://www.forbes.com/pictures/eglg45fifjk/no-10-iraq-6/
  2. http://www.xenograg.com/280/excerpts/immense-wealth-of-the-persian-kings
  3. http://listverse.com/2010/06/22/top-10-greatest-empires-in-history/
  4. http://www.richeast.org/htwm/greeks/kapost/ship.html
  5. http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/geography/ig/Maps-of-Ancient-Greece/Persian-Empire-Map.–lv.htm
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Umayyad750ADloc.png
  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talent_%28measurement%29
  8. http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=KU&trk=m
  9. http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=TC&trk=m
  10. http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=TX&trk=m
  11. http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=SA&trk=m
  12. http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=LY&trk=m
  13. http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=IZ&trk=m
  14. http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=QA&trk=m
  15. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/billions-of-cubic-feet-equivalent-bcfe.asp
  16. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/01/04/crude-oil-prices-in-2014.aspx