Venezuela Surpasses Saudi Arabia as the World’s Principal Crude Oil Reserve

Hugo Chavez at Council of Ministers July 2011
The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, during yesterday’s Council of Ministers in Caracas. Photo by Reuters.

Venezuela Surpasses Saudi Arabia as the World’s Principal Crude Oil Reserve
The South American nation’s reserves increased 40% from 2009 to 2010
El País: Venezuela supera a Arabia Saudí como principal reserva de crudo del mundo
EFE reporting from Vienna July 19, 2011

Venezuela is now the country with the largest proven crude oil reserves, with about 296,501,000,000 barrels, surpassing Saudi Arabia, according to the Annual Statistical Bulletin of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The South American country’s reserves increased 40% from 2009 to 2010 while Saudi Arabia’s were stagnant (OPEC recognizes the existence of 264,516,000,000 barrels there).

Ecuador, the other Latin American member of OPEC, was attributed 7.206 billion barrels, 10% more than in 2009.

OPEC calculated 1.46 trillion barrels in the planet’s oil reserves in 2010, of which 81.3% belongs to its 12 members. Its share has increased from 79.6% in 2009, principally thanks to Venezuela; no other country discovered as much oil last year.

Two OPEC members, Iran with 151.17 billion barrels and Iraq with 143.1 billion, were third and fourth in world reserves, respectively.

Outside the cartel, which is based in Vienna, Russia (79.432 billion barrels) and Kazakhstan (39.8 billion) are the nations with the greatest oil fields. Brazil, with 12.857 billion in reserves, and Mexico with 11.692 billion are the Latin American countries outside OPEC to which the cartel attributes the most petroleum.

Although Venezuela has the greatest reserves, when capacity for exploitation is taken into account, Saudi Arabia is still the undisputed principal oil producer on the planet; it pumps over 8 million barrels from the depths each day. Venezuela, for its part, extracts 2.8 million barrels of crude a day and Ecuador 476,400.

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