U.S. States With the Most Oil Reserves [2022 Edition]

Like many sectors of the economy, the energy industry has faced new challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shifts in demand, production capacity, and distribution networks related to the virus have led to imbalances in supply and demand. Businesses and consumers who rely on petroleum and its byproducts are now confronting shortages in supply—and seeing higher prices as a result.

While the current conditions are unique and likely temporary, concerns about oil shortages are nothing new. Since before the energy crisis of the 1970s, experts have warned of “peak oil”—the point at which oil production from available reserves reaches maximum capacity and begins to diminish. But despite predictions that oil production is poised for decline, advances in geological understanding and technology like horizontal drilling and fracking have actually expanded production in recent years.

These new techniques were first widely adopted in the early to mid-2000s, and since then, the oil business in the U.S. has transformed. From the early 1980s to around 2008, U.S. oil production fell from 3.1 billion barrels to 1.8 billion per year while oil imports more than doubled from 2.1 billion to around 5 billion. Since then, imports have fallen sharply while production and exports have grown. Oil production today is over 4 billion barrels annually, and in 2020, the U.S. became a net exporter of oil for the first time.

Chart1_The US became a net exporter of oil in 2020 for the first time ever

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One important metric for capturing the growth in the oil industry in the U.S. is proved reserves. The U.S. Energy Information Administration defines proved reserves as the estimated volume of hydrocarbon resources that are recoverable under current economic and operating conditions, which can shift based on new discoveries, shifts in production capacity, or improved techniques and technologies. Proved reserves in the U.S. had peaked historically at 39 billion barrels in the early 1970s before falling by more than half, to 19 billion, in 2008. In the years since, proved reserves have spiked to above 44 billion barrels as new extraction techniques have taken hold.

Chart2_US proved oil reserves have sharply increased in the past decade

Some states have seen greater effects from the recent boom in oil production than others. Texas has seen a 51.7% increase in the size of its proved oil reserves over the last five years, further cementing its place as the top oil state in the U.S. With more than 18.6 billion barrels of proved oil reserves, Texas now has more than three times the total of the next-highest state, North Dakota (5.9 billion). But some other states have also been rapidly climbing up the list of major oil-producing states, with states like New Mexico (134.1% increase over the last five years) and Oklahoma (64.9%) seeing dramatic growth in the size of their reserves due to improvements in production.

Researchers at Construction Coverage analyzed data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to determine the states that had the most crude oil proved reserves. For reference, the five-year change in proved reserves was calculated for each state. Researchers also included the number of operating refineries in each state as a point of reference.

Here are the states with the most oil reserves.

U.S. States That Have the Most Oil Reserves

Michigan

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15. Michigan

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 48
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): -9.4%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): -5
  • Number of operating refineries: 1

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Ohio

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14. Ohio

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 88
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): +12.8%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): +10
  • Number of operating refineries: 4
Mississippi

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13. Mississippi

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 114
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): -50.4%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): -116
  • Number of operating refineries: 2
Utah

Photo Credit: Mark Smith / Shutterstock

12. Utah

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 275
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): -50.5%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): -280
  • Number of operating refineries: 5
Montana

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11. Montana

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 298
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): -32.9%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): -146
  • Number of operating refineries: 4
Kansas

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10. Kansas

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 313
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): -24.4%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): -101
  • Number of operating refineries: 3
Louisiana

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9. Louisiana

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 389
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): -27.2%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): -145
  • Number of operating refineries: 14
Wyoming

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8. Wyoming

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 1,013
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): +6.3%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): +60
  • Number of operating refineries: 4
Colorado

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7. Colorado

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 1,414
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): +17.8%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): +214
  • Number of operating refineries: 2
Oklahoma

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6. Oklahoma

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 2,047
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): +64.9%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): +806
  • Number of operating refineries: 5
California

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5. California

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 2,213
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): -22.5%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): -641
  • Number of operating refineries: 14
Alaska

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4. Alaska

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 2,680
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): -6.1%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): -175
  • Number of operating refineries: 5
New Mexico

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3. New Mexico

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 3,456
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): +134.1%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): +1,980
  • Number of operating refineries: 1
North Dakota

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2. North Dakota

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 5,897
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): -2.4%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): -146
  • Number of operating refineries: 1
Texas

Photo Credit: Jim Parkin / Shutterstock

1. Texas

  • Crude oil proved reserves (million barrels): 18,622
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (percent): +51.7%
  • 5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels): +6,350
  • Number of operating refineries: 30

Methodology & Detailed Findings

Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to determine the states that had the most crude oil proved reserves (as of 2019). For additional context, the five-year change in proved reserves, between 2014 and 2019, was calculated for each state. Researchers also extracted the number of operating refineries (as of 2021) in each state as a point of reference. Only states with at least one million barrels were included in the analysis.

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Jonathan Jones

Jonathan Jones is a senior researcher and data journalist for Construction Coverage. He received his J.D. from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and has degrees in philosophy and political science from UCLA.

When Jon is not researching real estate and public policy, he likes to fix up old cars and work on home improvement projects.