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July 11, 2023

Crude oil and natural gas proved reserves held by public companies fell slightly in 2022

annual proved reserves for 187 exploration and production companies
Data source: Evaluate Energy

International proved crude oil and natural gas reserves held by 187 publicly traded global exploration and production (E&P) companies declined by 5.6 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) in 2022, or 2%, according to data from the companies’ annual financial reports. In 2020, proved reserves held by these public companies had dropped by 9% due primarily to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in 2021, proved reserves increased by 9% from 2020.

Proved reserves are estimated volumes of hydrocarbon resources that an analysis of geologic and engineering data demonstrates with reasonable certainty are recoverable under existing economic and operating conditions. Company assessments of their proved reserves of crude oil and natural gas change from year to year because of revisions to existing reserves resulting from price changes, extensions and discoveries of new resources, purchases and sales of proved reserves, and production.

The decline in these companies’ proved reserves in 2022 was driven primarily by sales of producing properties in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In 2022, some large oil companies, including bp and TotalEnergies, divested from Russia. Those divestments, categorized as sales of property in the data, reduced total proved reserves reported by these E&P companies by 12.0 billion BOE in 2022.

In 2022, additions to these companies’ proved reserves of 16.2 billion BOE, producing property purchases of 8.2 billion BOE, and upward revisions of 2.8 billion BOE were not enough to cover the larger decreases in proved reserves from the combination of more property sales than usual and normal production.

We analyzed the published financial reports of 187 domestic and international companies provided to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and collected by Evaluate Energy. Our conclusions do not represent the entire global E&P sector because the data do not include private companies, which do not publish financial reports. We estimate the 187 companies in this analysis accounted for about half of the petroleum production by non-OPEC companies in 2022. The top 20 companies accounted for more than two-thirds of the 231 billion BOE in proved oil and natural gas reserves held at the end of 2022.

annual change in crude oil and natural gas proved reserves
Data source: Evaluate Energy

You can find further analysis of global trends in our annual Financial Review. In December, we will issue our annual U.S. crude oil and natural gas proved reserves report. This report provides a more detailed analysis of proved reserves located in the United States and includes a larger sample of both publicly traded and privately owned U.S. producers.

Principal contributor: Alexander de Keyserling