The UAE has extracted over $300 billion worth of oil from beneath its arid desert since crude gushed out of its wells and it began exporting the black gold nearly 40 years ago.

The staggering revenues were calculated on the basis of a cumulative production of more than 21 billion barrels and an average oil price of around $14.50 a barrel in nominal terms since the country started commercial crude supplies in 1962.

Figures by the Ministry of Planning showed the UAE produced just 14,200 barrels per day (bpd) in 1962, after which output began its rapid climb to surpass two million bpd in some years. By the end of last year, cumulative production reached 21.25 billion barrels and the figure is set to exceed 22 billion barrels at the end of this year.

Oil prices were calculated on a yearly basis as provided by Opec between 1970 and last year and by the Ministry of Planning during the 1960s.

At an average oil price of $14.50 a barrel in nominal terms, the UAE has earned nearly $308 billion from crude exports between 1962 and last year.

The earnings are more than four times the country's gross domestic product of around $71 billion last year and nearly 43 per cent of the total Arab GDP. Theoretically, the UAE's proven oil reserves should have sharply declined because of such a massive production.

But actually, the extractable reserves have shot up from less than 35 billion barrels in the early 1980s to nearly 98 billion barrels at the end of last year.

"This is because of the ongoing exploration and development programmes carried out by the UAE and the introduction of advanced drilling and extraction technology," said an oil industry source. "We are talking about the recoverable oil reserves or, in other words, those in place…But I think there is far more oil in deep layers than is believed."

In 1962, the UAE earned just around $10 million in real terms and the figure shot up to more than $565 million. In 1980, its nominal oil income skyrocketed to nearly $17.6 billion when crude prices leapt to $28.6 and the UAE's output peaked at 1.7 million.

In 2000, when oil prices were also as high as $27 and the UAE's production exceeded two million bpd, the income was above $20 billion. It receded to around $16.6 billion last year and is projected to rebound to nearly $21.8 billion this year.

Depending on future oil price trends, the UAE could earn more from oil sales as its crude production will likely exceed three million bpd in the long-term when many other supply sources outside the Middle East will have dwindled or depleted.