Venezuela's proven oil reserves total 81 billion barrels (Bb) and could grow to 316Bb by 2008, newspaper El Universal quoted state oil firm PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez as saying.
"We are sure that we will incorporate into our proven reserves, in our books, 235Bb of oil that can be recovered from the Orinoco oil belt," the paper quoted him as saying. ...
"We are in a program that should wrap up in November 2008," Ramirez said of the program.
If Ramirez is right, the program could bring Venezuela's reserves to 316Bb, the highest in the world.
In a separate article they reported:
Venezuela is the world's fifth-largest crude oil exporter. However, its production is heavier than other types and commands a lower price. For example, a barrel of Venezuelan oil last week had an average price of US$64.37, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI), Brent and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) barrels were all above US$70.
And in another article:
Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA aims to produce an extra 520,000 barrels a day (b/d) at the Orinoco heavy crude belt by 2012, officials from the state firm's R&D unit Intevep told BNamericas. ... Orinoco presently produces 500,000-600,000b/d.
It appears that Venezuela is following Canada's lead by including part of its enormous heavy oil reserves in its official 'proven oil reserves'. The problem with heavy oil is that it is more expensive to process than conventional oil. The proportion of oil reserves classified as unconventional oil, which includes heavy oil, keeps increasing as production of conventional declines (past peak). As far as the US is concerned, we have to wonder how much of this oil we will receive, considering Chavez's attitude toward the US, but in the end all of the oil that is produced is probably going to be consumed somewhere and if possible we would like to get our hands on as much conventional oil as possible, no matter where it comes from. US refineries continue to be upgraded to handle heavy, sour oil so we can probably handle oil no matter where it comes from. An extra 520,000b/d is not too significant considering our crude oil distillation capacity is almost 18 million barrels per calendar day (including Puerto Rica and the Virgin Islands) per EIA, but supplies are getting more scarce as the demands of China and India keep increasing.
I found the following while looking up the data on our refinery capacity, which is more encouraging than you would expect from listening to and reading the popular press.
Total crude distillation capacity increased by 214,000 BPCD (+1.25%) in 2005. U.S. refiners are responding to the growing demand for gasoline and diesel by making significant investments to increase refining capacity. Refining companies have announced plans to add between 1.4 and two million barrels per day of new U.S. refining capacity, much of which could be on-line by the end of 2010. (source: National Petrochemical & Refiners Association)