Venezuela raises oil reserves to 172 bn barrels

Mar 17, 2009 01:00 AM

Venezuela increased its proved crude reserves by 14 % last year, edging closer to leader Saudi Arabia.
Venezuela's 172.3 bn barrels as of Dec. 31 were mostly boosted by projects in the Orinoco Belt. State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, known as PdVSA, is counting on the Orinoco region to increase the South American country's oil output, which has fallen by 31 % since 2001. The region in eastern Venezuela is home to joint ventures capable of producing 600,000 bpd of oil.

Joint ventures between PdVSA and entities from more than a dozen countries are analyzing Orinoco deposits to calculate how many barrels of crude exist and develop plans to extract them. Oil reserves are known deposits that can be profitably extracted with current technology under current market conditions.
At the end of 2007, Saudi Arabia had 264.2 bn barrels of proved reserves, Iran had 138.4 bn barrels and Venezuela had 87 bn barrels, according to BP's Statistical Review of World Energy. The Canadian Association ofPetroleum Producers disputes Venezuela's claim to second place for reserve rankings. It says Canada has 178 bn barrels of proved reserves, more than Venezuela. Both Canada's and Venezuela's reserves are mostly made up of tar-like crude that needs to be purified in plants called upgraders before being sold to refineries.

$ 18-bn investment
Pumping Venezuela's new reserves may require hundreds of billions of dollars. PdVSA's cost estimate for a single 400,000 bpd project in the Orinoco was $ 18 bn as of February. Bidding in the Orinoco in an upcoming offer of proved reserves to companies will create three joint ventures between international companies and PdVSA. Each venture will pump, process and export at least 400,000 bpd.
BP and Chevron are among the 19 companies who paid $ 2 mm each for bidding data packs, PdVSA said on Dec. 2. About 47 companies expressed interest in the auction that began Oct. 30.

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