Trinidad &






Trinidad &


Very usefull links





Business Partners




caracas chronicles

Gustavo Coronel


Venezuela Today

Le Blog des
Energies Nouvelles






Venezuela claims it has world's largest oil reserves

CARACAS, Jan 20, 2011

Venezuela says it has dethroned fellow OPEC member Saudi Arabia to become the nation with the largest proven crude oil reserves in the world, at nearly 300 billion barrels.

"At the end of 2010, we had a level of 217 billion barrels of oil, and right now at the start of this year, we can certify 297 billion barrels," Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia, long the world's top producer and exporter of crude, has some 266 billion barrels of oil, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Venezuela, Latin America's leading exporter of crude, has claimed steadily growing proven oil reserves in recent years, including a 23 percent increase one year ago due primarily to oil certifications in its vast Orinoco Belt.

A jubilant President Hugo Chavez, at the helm of the socialist country that nationalized most of its energy industry in 2007, hailed the new figures, saying they ensure the country's long-term energy sustainability.

"With these reserves to date, and the pace of our operations, Venezuela has enough oil for 200 years. No country on this planet has oil for 200 years," Chavez said.

Venezuela produces about three million barrels of crude per day, according to official government figures, although just 2.3 million barrels are committed to OPEC. It was the world's eighth biggest oil producer in 2009, according to the International Energy Agency.

The country's new reserves total was provided by Petroleos de Venezuela, the state-owned giant that since 2007 has taken at least a 60 percent share in all oil projects in the country.

Estimates in the Orinoco Belt are huge, with Venezuela boasting that it could be the largest single oil field on Earth.

Ramirez said that the total reserves included, 220 billion barrels of oil in the Orinoco Belt, "which serves as a resource base and a solid foundation for all our expansion plans."

The region, some 55,314 square kilometers (21,360 square miles) in eastern Venezuela's Orinoco River area, has seen a boon in domestic and foreign investment in recent years as Caracas seeks to exploit the Orinoco Belt's reserves of heavy and extra-heavy oil.

The US Geological Survey last year estimated there were 513 billion barrels of "technically recoverable heavy oil" in the region, although for years experts believed it was prohibitively expensive to extract and refine the heavy and extra-heavy oil in the area.

But steadily depleted light crude reserves, and an increase in global oil prices -- currently around 100 dollars a barrel, against 20 dollars a barrel in the 1990s -- have revived interest among foreign firms that have pledged tens of billions of dollars in investment.

Last year, some 30 companies from more than 20 different countries were operating in the Orinoco Belt.

Orinoco oil has been a point of contention in the petroleum world, and Chavez's hands-on approach to the oil industry has alarmed some investors.

The reserves are also years away from development, so the Caracas announcements "don't have an immediate impact on the oil market," said oil expert Andy Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates, based in Houston, Texas.

"In Venezuela, many of their reserves are very heavy, viscous crude and it takes a huge amount of investment in order to get that out of the ground."

Last July, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief, dismissed claims by Chavez that Venezuela might have more than Saudi Arabia's proven reserves.

"These claims are entirely about unproven reserves, so they are completely hypothetical and, in my opinion, entirely unfounded," the prince said at the time.

"Were Saudi Arabia to go down the path of claiming unproven reserves, there would still be no competition," he added, saying the desert kingdom might have over 700 billion barrels underground.

Saudi oil reserves, although aging, are for the most part easily recoverable light crude. Extracting oil from difficult production areas such as the Orinoco Belt requires far more complicated and costly equipment and procedures.

Story by Natalia Ramos from AFP

AFP 01/19/2011 21:35



Send this story to a friend

Copyright© 1999-2009 Petroleumworld or respective author or news agency. All rights reserved.

We welcome the use of Petroleumworld™ stories by anyone provided it mentions as the source. Other stories you have to get authorization by its authors.

Internet web links to are appreciatedPetroleumworld welcomes your feedback and comments,
share your thoughts on this article, your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us
their views and comments about this article.

Write to

By using this link, you agree to allow PW
to publish your comments on our letters page.

Any question or suggestions, please write to:

Best Viewed with IE 5.01+ Windows NT 4.0, '95,
'98,ME,XP, Vista, Windows 7+/ 800x600 pixels


Contact: 212) 635 7252, (58 412) 996 3730 or
(58  412) 952 5301

Editor:Elio C. Ohep A/Producer - Publisher:Elio Ohep /
Contact Email:
CopyRight © 1999-2006, Elio Ohep - All Rights Reserved. Legal Information
- CCS office Tele
phone/Teléfonos Oficina: ( 58 212) 635 7252
PW in Top 100 Energy Sites

Technorati Profile

Fair use notice of copyrighted material:
This site is a public free site and it contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of business, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have chosen to view the included information for research, information, and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission fromPetroleumworld or the copyright owner of the material.