CARACAS – Venezuela’s oil reserves total 217 billion barrels, making them the largest in the world and topping those of Saudi Arabia, President Hugo Chavez said.
“We have exceeded 217 billion barrels, but the certification process has not ended,” Chavez said Saturday during a review of his 2010 accomplishments before the newly installed National Assembly.
Venezuela’s total reserves could reach 300 billion barrels of crude based on new projections, and some U.S. experts estimate that they could total 500 billion barrels, with almost all the oil in the Orinoco Belt, the president said.
The Orinoco Belt, located in east-central Venezuela, is believed to hold the world’s largest petroleum reserves, with most of the oil heavy and extra-heavy crude that is more expensive to refine because it requires additional processing.
“We’ve said that we have 300 billion barrels, but the administration of President (Barack) Obama published a report saying that 500 billion barrels could be recovered there. That’s probably because they have more technology than we do,” Chavez said.
“Venezuela has petroleum for more than 200 years. No other country in the planet has reserves for 200 years,” the president said.
The price of a barrel of oil “will reach $100 and $200 because the reserves are running out,” Chavez said.
The president denied reports from opposition media outlets that Venezuela’s production had fallen below 2 million barrels per day.
“We are at 3 million and a little more barrels daily, and we have been increasing production from the Orinoco Belt,” Chavez said.
The president, moreover, said Venezuela would raise its ranking in gas reserves from No. 8 to No. 5.