One of the fascinating aspects of the industry is the fact that all countries are consumers of products derived from the oil and gas industry, but only a small set of nations are major producers of oil and gas. Over the past decades, the large developed economies of the world have become net importers of oil and gas, giving rise to challenging geopolitical issues involving a diverse set of oil consumers and producers.

The major oil- and gas-producing nations and their change in output over a decade. Countries like Angola, Brazil, and Kazakhstan have made their way into the top tier of oil producers, whereas the United States, Mexico, and Venezuela, for different reasons, are on their way down. In natural gas, newcomers like Qatar and Turkmenistan are now major players. Unlike oil, the United States continues to increase its production of gas. Of the 28 different countries that make up the oil and gas lists, all but seven (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) have national budgets that are highly dependent on exports of oil and gas.

The oil and gas industry has been widely criticized by politicians and the media for its high profits of recent years. In the US, talk of an excess profits tax prompted Lee Raymond, former ExxonMobil CEO, to comment in 2005: “I can’t remember any of these people seven years ago, when the price was $10 a barrel, coming forward and saying, are you guys going to have enough money to be able to continue to invest in this business? I don’t recall my phone ringing and anybody asking me that question.”


The oil and gas industry is highly cyclical, and the cycles can last many