These 8 Regions Could Be Sitting On Most Of The World's Oil And Gas

iraq oil

Photo: Flickr/MATEUS_27:24&25

In March, the United States Geological Survey published the first report since 2000 summarizing its estimates of total undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources for the rest of the world, excluding the U.S.Using a region’s given geology, the study found that about 75 per cent of the resources are in four principal regions: South America and Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, and the Arctic provinces of North America.

The devil is in the details, however.

Within these four regions, the estimated deposits are often concentrated in areas that have seen intense political turmoil in the past 30 years.

We put together a list of the top regions highlighted in the USGS report — and the time elapsed since their most recent power struggle.

We’re defining that latter element as any attempt at a regime change or government overthrow (think Iran’s Green Revolution). 

We think it makes for an interesting juxtaposition.  

Note: the “conventional” category excludes shale — a separate report on which, according to USGS, is forthcoming.

The coast of West Africa

Estimated undiscovered oil: 86.25 billion barrels.

Time elapsed since last power struggle: 8 years

In 2004, a group of mercenaries, financed in part by Margaret Thatcher's son, attempted to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea. They failed.

Source: USGS

Iran and Iraq

Estimated recoverable oil: 65 billion barrels

Time elapsed since last power struggle: 36 months

Although Iran's Green Revolution has been temporarily suppressed, there is no sign that the sentiments that led to the protests have dissipated.

Source: USGS

The coast of Brazil

Estimated undiscovered oil: 55.5 billion barrels.

Time elapsed since last power struggle: N/A

Brazil has successfully transitioned to a fully functional democracy.

Source: USGS

China

Estimated undiscovered oil: 15.7 billion barrels

Time elapsed since last power struggle: N/A

China seems to have maintained its composure in the wake of the Bo Xilai incident, though some believe the Middle Kingdom remains more fragile than meets the eye.

South Kara Sea (Arctic)

Estimated undiscovered natural gas: 622 trillion cubic feet.

Time elapsed since last power struggle: N/A

While nothing headline-worthy has occurred yet, tensions between the U.S. and Russia over arctic territory appear to be simmering.

Source: USGS

The Nile and Levantine basins

Estimated undiscovered natural gas: 566 trillion cubic feet.

Time elapsed since last power struggle: 15 months

Although Egyptians will cast their first votes for president today, violent protests continue to break out.

Source: USGS

Southeast Africa

Estimated undiscovered natural gas: approximately 400 trillion cubic feet.

Time elapsed since last power struggle: 18 months

An agreement was signed last fall to reestablish democracy in Madagascar after two coups occurred within 12 months of each other.

Source: USGS

Australia

Undiscovered, recoverable natural gas: 227 trillion cubic feet.

Time elapsed since last power struggle: N/A

Australia is relatively free of dramatic government shake-ups -- or at least, ones that aren't par for the course for any other Western nation.

Source: USGS

For more on oil and gas estimates...

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