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Nauru (the Republic of Nauru) is in the Micronesia archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean. Its nearest neighbour is Kiribati, 300 kms to the east. It is the third smallest state by area in the world.

Nauru was first settled by Micronesians over 3,000 years ago. Along with Polynesians, the population once existed in 12 tribal groups represented by the 12-pointed star on its flag. In 1798 British whalers visited, calling it Pleasant Island, but Europeans only stopped over regularly after 1830, introducing firearms that were used in a tribal war that began in 1878.

Nauru was annexed by Germany in 1888, the war ended, and the island was incorporated into the Marshall Islands Protectorate with local kings established as rulers.

In 1906 phosphate from bird droppings began to be exploited. In World War 1 it was captured by Australia and in 1919 became a joint mandate run by Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Taken by Japan in 1942 and liberated in 1945 it returned to trusteeship until given self rule in 1966.

Independence followed in 1968. After near exhaustion of its phosphate reserves and devastation of the interior from mining the phosphate, the economy collapsed and the island became a centre for money laundering. Its main income now comes from Australia for hosting the Nauru detention centre.

Nauru is a raised limestone island resting on oceanic crust of the Pacific ocean plate surrounded by a narrow coastal belt and coral reef.

Cliffs surround the central plateau with the highest point being Command Ridge at 71m. Nauru was one of 3 phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean, along with Banaba in Kiribati and Makatea in French Polynesia, although the phosphate reserves are now almost entirely depleted. Mining has left a barren terrain of jagged limestone pinnacles devastating nearly 80% of the land area.

The geology is not suitable for the generation and accumulation of commercial volumes of oil and gas and Nauru has no indigenous oil or gas resources, either onshore or offshore. Globalshift believes that it is very unlikely to achieve any production in the future. No exploration wells have ever been drilled in the country.


Map and National Flag



E and P


Oil and gas summary Brief history of the country



Land area (sq kms)

Oil prod (000s b/d)

Gas prod (bcm/yr)

Oil cons (000s b/d)

Gas cons (bcm/yr)


Yaren (not official)

0.01 mm






Nauru has a parliamentary system of government without political parties. The president is head of state.

A 19-member unicameral parliament is elected every 3 years who are mostly independents. The parliament elects the president and the president appoints a cabinet of up to 6 members.

There is no department of government in Nauru specifically responsible for oil and gas resources.

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