CARACAS – Venezuela currently produces 2.9 million barrels of crude per day (bpd) and plans to increase its output by 100,000 bpd this year, said an executive of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA in Caracas daily El Nacional Thursday.
“We are carrying out a plan to recover production” levels, PDVSA’s Pedro Leon said during a Wednesday conference on heavy crude in the eastern city of Maturin, some 512 kilometers (320 miles) from Caracas.
PDVSA claimed to be producing 3 million bpd at the end of 2008 before complying with production cuts mandated by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, of which Venezuela is a founding member.
Two weeks ago, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that the country would increase oil production by some 300,000 barrels a day starting near the end of this year.
The country will see "an important jump around the end of the year: about 300,000 barrels a day," Chavez said during his Sunday "Hello, President" show.
Leon added that PDVSA currently has 190 oil rigs in operation.
Venezuela’s OPEC governor, Bernard Mommer, said in Vienna in March that his country was in 75% compliance with the production cuts and was pumping some 2.8 million barrels per day.
“If we compare our production in September 2008 with (current output), meaning that of February (2010), we’re talking 267,000-272,000 barrels per day (bpd) that we cut. Our compliance is at 75%. And these are the real numbers,” Mommer said at an OPEC ministerial meeting.
OPEC, the US and independent industry analysts put the Venezuela's total oil production lower, offering differing estimates of Venezuela’s actual levels, making the exact production figures difficult to determine.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the US Department of Energy estimates that Venezuela produced around 2.64 million bpd of oil in 2008, including crude oil, condensates, and natural gas liquids (NGLs).
"One factor that complicates comparisons of Venezuelan oil production estimates are methodological and classification issues," says the EIA. "For example, EIA estimates that, of Venezuela’s 2.64 million bbl/d of oil production, 2.39 million bpd was crude oil and 250,000 bpd was condensate, NGLs, and refinery processing gain. On the other hand, it is unclear what “other liquids” are included in other estimates of oil production."
Another methodological issue is the measuring of crude oil production by the four extra-heavy strategic associations. Some analysts count the extra-heavy oil produced by the associations as part of Venezuela’s crude oil production. Others (including EIA) count the upgraded syncrude, which is about 10% lower than the volume of the original extra-heavy feedstock, produced by the four as part of Venezuela’s crude oil production instead.
EIA estimates that Venezuela’s crude oil production (excluding other oil liquids) averaged 2.2 million bpd in 2009, about 190,000 bpd lower than 2008 levels. "Numerous causes were responsible for the lower level of production, including natural decline at older fields, maintenance at some of the strategic associations, and compliance with production cuts announced by OPEC," said the EIA.
As of January 2010, the EIA estimated Venezuela’s OPEC production target was 1.99 million bpd of crude oil.
Venezuela, the world’s fifth-leading crude exporter, had pledged to reduce production by 364,000 bpd starting in 2009 in compliance with the OPEC-mandated cuts.
In 2008, Venezuela's domestic market consumed about 750,000 bpd of their oil production and the country had net oil exports of around 1.89 million bpd, according to the EIA. The United States is the largest importer of Venezuela’s oil exports.
In 2008, the United States imported 1.19 million bpd of crude oil and petroleum products from Venezuela, down from 1.36 million bpd in 2007.
Historically, Venezuela has been one of the most important suppliers of foreign oil to the United States, but that importance has been diminishing, especially under Venezuela President Hugo Chavez. In 1960, Venezuela’s share of U.S. oil imports stood at 50%, but Venezuela now bounces between being the fourth and fifth largest supplier to the US, supplying only 9% of total US oil imports in 2008.
Oil accounts for more than one-third of Venezuela's gross domestic product, more than half of government revenue and about nine-tenths of the country's exports.
The government has said it expects oil output to reach 4.15 million barrels a day in 2015.