President Hugo Chavez says Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and he plans to show the world that Venezuela’s proven oil reserves have been underestimated and that they easily outweigh previously proven oil deposits in the Middle East.
Chavez says that Venezuela’s estimated 78 billion barrels together with with an estimated 238 billion barrels of tar oil in the Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt make it “the largest petroleum reserves in the world.”
Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) says Venezuela’s proven oil reserves have been underestimated since the reserves in the Orinoco Belt have not previously been included in studies calculating all the nation’s oil reserves.
The eastern Orinoco heavy crude has been marketed by previous governments as a substitute boiler fuel (Orimulsion) and that it was not included in conventional oil reserve calculations since it was originally designed and patented to compete with coal. It was for that reason alone that it was not taken up under established Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production quotas.
· Now PDVSA plans to include the Orinoco reserves in Venezuela’s conventional oil reserves, a move that marks a shift in Venezuela’s governmental oil policy.
PDVSA says that previous governments had sold Orimulsion at a fraction of oil prices and then started to mix it with lighter crude to make it marketable, and consequently must be recognized as a part of Venezuela’s total oil reserves.
Sidelined opposition-faithful industry analysts claim that the Venezuelan government is intent on increasing Venezuela’s proven reserves to regain negotiating power inside OPEC … they continue to deny government figures and say Venezuela is producing well below its OPEC quota and has no available output capacity to boost its negotiatory influence with other members of the oil cartel.