Venezuela holds 297 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, most of it in tar sands but sufficient to be ahead of Saudi Arabia considered by world experts the number one country in reserves.
“At the end of 2010, we had a level of 217 billion barrels of oil, and now, at the start of this year, we are in a position to certify 297 billion barrels” said Energy and Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramirez in Caracas.
The minister recalled that in 1998, when President Hugo Chavez was elected for his first term, the country had 75 billion barrels of oil reserves, “35 billion of them wrongly classified as bitumen from the Orinoco Belt” in eastern Venezuela.
Of the current total of 297 billion barrels, 220 billion are located in the Orinoco Belt, “which gives us a solid footing for our entire expansion plan in the oil production area” underlined Ramirez.
The minister said Venezuela’s natural gas reserves totalled 195 trillion cubic feet thanks to offshore drilling campaigns in the giant Perla field.
Ramirez pointed out that as Energy minister he was pleased that Venezuela is ready to complete and celebrate 100 years of oil production adding that “unlike many countries that have exhausted their base of reserves, Venezuela’s continue to grow”.
The country currently exports more than 2.3 million barrels per day, while domestic consumption amounts to more than 560,000 bpd.
Chavez informed lawmakers the latest projections indicate that Venezuela’s oil reserves total some 300 billion barrels and are greater than those of Saudi Arabia, which, according to OPEC’s latest bulletin, had 264.6 billion barrels of proven oil reserves in 2009.
That same bulletin showed that Venezuela’s proven reserves stood at 211.2 billion barrels. Venezuela is among the world’s top 10 oil exporters and a key supplier to the United States.