Iraq's oil ministry announced today that their country's proven oil reserves have grown by 25%. Iraq now possesses over 143 billion barrels of extractable oil. That number is too large to be meaningful to most people. So here are three ways to help you put that number in greater perspective. First, at today's price of oil (approximately $80 per barrel) Iraq possesses about $116 trillion in oil assets. In 2009 the U.S. government took in just over $2 trillion in total tax revenue and spent just over $3.5 trillion. Iraq's proven recoverable oil reserves could have covered the entire 2009 U.S. budget 33 times over.
Second, the entire U.S. national debt currently stands at approximately $13.5 trillion. (That's nearly $44,000 owed by every single man, woman, and child in the country!) Iraq's proven recoverable oil reserves could pay off that entire debt about 9 times over.
Third, the United States consumes just under 21 million barrels of oil per day. At our current rate of consumption, Iraq has sufficient oil reserves to supply all the oil needed by the United States for the next 18 years.
That's a LOT of oil! And the amount is likely to grow.
From 1991 until just last year Iraq had done virtually no oil exploration because of the restrictions imposed on Saddam Hussein following the first Gulf War. The 25% growth in proven reserves is the result of new exploration that has begun since the end of the second Gulf War.
Perhaps this helps illustrate the picture of Babylon (the region of present-day Iraq) presented in the Book of Revelation. When this region is finally judged by God "the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more" (8:11). John then lists the luxury items being imported to feed the appetite of this nouveau riche nation. The businessmen cry out "The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered" (18:12). And "every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off" (18:17) and cry out when they see the destruction of this place on whose wealth they will have come to depended for their livelihood.
For centuries John's words seemed overly dramatic...too amazing to be taken literally. Now, however, it's easier to visualize how this area can possess such economic wealth and influence over the world.