Top 5 Countries for the Amount of Petroleum Exported

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If you’re a country, having “petroleum exporter” on your business card makes marketing irrelevant and the sales process a formality. Oil’s role as the backbone of economies around the globe provides a steady supply of customers ready to buy. We heat homes with it and transform it into textiles and composite materials used to make cars and airplanes. Gasoline, plastics, fertilizer and building supplies come from petroleum, as do polymers used to manufacture medical devices such as prosthetics and heart valves. Petroleum enhances life for its buyers, but it doesn’t always bring prosperity to its exporters.

5 Nigeria

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One-third of Nigeria’s petroleum exports go to the U.S., making it our fourth-largest supplier. Other customers include India, Brazil, Canada and India. Corruption and political instability have hindered the African nation’s ability to capitalize on its oil revenues, holding per capita GNP to a mere $2,600. With a crude export level of 2.3 million barrels a day, Nigeria rounds out our top 5 petroleum exporters.

4 United Arab Emirates

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Petroleum made the United Arab Emirates the world’s eighth wealthiest country in 2011, based on its per capita GDP of $48,500. Slightly smaller than the state of Maine, the UAE exports nearly 2.5 million barrels of crude a day. Asian countries, particularly Japan, buy 95 percent of the oil UAE exports. United Arab Emirates invested in a 230-mile pipeline to give its shippers direct access to the open seas from the Gulf of Oman and avoid the bottlenecked Strait of Hormutz used by most oil tankers.

3 Iran

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In 1911, Iran’s oil fields were the first Middle Eastern reserves to go into production. The country’s rank in world oil exports has fluctuated over the years, but it how holds third place, exporting 2.5 million barrels of crude a day. Plagued by government controls and foreign disputes, Iran’s economy relies on its shipments to Asia and Europe. This oil-rich country has a $13,400 per capita GDP, a little more than the U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty threshold for a single person: $11,484.

2 Russia

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Russia not only ranks as the second-biggest oil producer, its export total, 7.1 million barrels a day, places it in silver-medal position as an exporter. It ships petroleum to four continents: Europe, Asia, North America and South America. Germany, Poland and The Netherlands represent its best customers, taking 78 percent of Russian exported crude. Russia produced 10.2 million barrels a day in 2011, seven times more than Texas, yet its per capita GDP of $17,400 fell short of the Lone Star state’s $25,548.

1 Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia and petroleum are synonymous: This Middle East kingdom produces and exports more petroleum than any other country. In 2011, Saudi Arabia exported 8.5 million barrels of oil a day, almost as much as the 8.8 million barrels a day that the U.S. imported overall that same year. The Saudis ship the majority of their exported crude to the world’s major economic powerhouses: the U.S., Japan and China. At $25,700, Saudi Arabia’s gross national product per capita makes it fifth wealthiest in the region.

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