Venezuela overtakes Saudi's crude oil reserves – OPEC

OPEC

OPEC last week said Venezuela surpassed Saudi Arabia as the Group's largest holder of crude oil reserves in 2010.

OPEC's proven crude oil reserves increased by 12.1 per cent in 2010 to rise to 1.19 trillion barrels. It holds 81.3 per cent of the world's proven crude reserves, up from 79.6 per cent last year. OPEC normally relies on its members' assessments for statistical data.

Venezuela's proven crude oil reserves reached 296.5 billion barrels in 2010, up 40.4 per cent from 2009 figures of 211.2 billion barrels and takes the South American country above Saudi Arabia's 264.5 billion barrels, OPEC reported in its annual statistical bulletin.

Venezuela has been slow to develop its large gas reserves and has traditionally focused on the vast reserves of extra-heavy oil in the Orinoco Belt. Some analysts have questioned how economic Venezuelan reserves additions are as the extra-heavy oil Orinoco Belt is difficult and expensive to extract.

Overall, the numbers show OPEC members benefited from higher oil prices in 2010, with the total value of their petroleum exports up 27.2 per cent at US$745.1 billion and their overall gross domestic product rising 11.2 per cent to US$2,325 billion.

Iraq and Iran's proven reserves were also increased by 24.4 per cent to 143.1 billion barrels and by 10.3 per cent to 151.2 billion barrels respectively, roughly in line with the countries' earlier disclosures.

Iranian oil exports jumped by 0.7 per cent as exports to Asia and the Pacific fell by 11 per cent. Iran crude oil exports to Europe in 2010 rose 34.5 per cent to 764,000 bpd on average. Iranian natural gas reserves and exports rose by 11.8 per cent and 48.7 per cent respectively.

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