Venezuela oil reserves topped Saudis in 2010
Venezuela’s crude oil proven reserves surpassed those of Saudi Arabia in 2010, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its annual statistical bulletin.
Venezuela’s proven crude oil reserves reached 296.5 billion barrels in 2010, up 40.4% on the year and higher than Saudi Arabia’s 264.5 billion barrels, OPEC said.
In the long run, the boost in reserves, which comes along with increases from Iran and Iraq, may empower members of the group who favor a defense of high prices. However, there are doubts over whether all of Venezuela’s heavy oil discoveries are actually economically viable.
The data broadly confirm Venezuela’s statements that it had reached this level of reserves in January. OPEC normally relies on its members’ assessments for statistical data.
Iraq’s and Iran’s proven reserves were also respectively upgraded by 24.4% to 143.1 billion barrels, and by 10.3% to 151.2 billion barrels, roughly in line with the countries’ earlier disclosures.
Venezuela, Iran and Iraq were part of a group that refused to endorse a Saudi-led push to hike output at an acrimonious OPEC meeting on June 8.
Analysts have questioned how economic Venezuelan reserves additions could be, as most come from the heavy and extra-heavy oil in the Orinoco Belt, which is difficult and expensive to extract.
Venezuela’s statistics have long been a controversial topic in oil circles, though disagreements on the matter have recently eased. The International Energy Agency last month said it revised the method used to calculate the country’s oil-production figures, bringing the agency’s estimates closer to those of Caracas.
The set of statistics may also vindicate Iran’s claims that sanctions aren’t crippling the development of its oil and gas industry. For instance, crude oil exports from the Islamic Republic to Europe in 2010 rose 34.5% to 764,000 barrels a day on average.
Last year, the European Union implemented stringent sanctions on Iran which, without banning crude purchases, complicate them by putting restrictions on insurance, financial services and energy sectors.
The numbers also underscore the recovery of the Nigerian oil industry with 17 more rigs active in the West African nation and 437 additional producing wells, following a sucessful amnesty for militants in 2009.
Overall, the numbers show OPEC members strongly benefited from higher oil prices in 2010, with the total value of their petroleum exports up 27.2% at $745.1 billion and their overall gross domestic product rising 11.2% to $2,325 billion.
Nigeria Exported More Than Second-Largest OPEC Nation Iran
Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, surpassed Iran as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ second-largest exporter in 2010 as security improved in the African nation and as Iran used more crude at home.
Nigeria shipped 2.464 million barrels a day last year, followed by Iran with 2.248 million barrels, according to OPEC’s Annual Statistical Bulletin published today on its website. Iran’s refining capacity rose by 18 percent last year, the biggest gain among OPEC’s 12 members, the report showed.
Energy companies in Nigeria stepped up oil output as militant attacks on installations in the Niger River delta dropped after a government amnesty to fighters in late 2009, the Department of Petroleum Resources said. Nigeria’s oil exports rose 46 percent to 9.15 trillion naira ($59 billion) last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said in April. Attacks by armed groups in the Niger delta region, home to the nation’s energy industry, cut more than 28 percent of oil production from 2006 to 2009, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.
Iran’s crude processing capacity increased to 1.741 million barrels a day, from 1.474 million, as facilities in Abadan, Arak, Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Lavan and Bandar Abbas were expanded, compared with 2009, the data showed. In neighboring Iraq, refining capacity declined.
Nigeria shipped 2.16 million barrels a day in 2009 and Iran exported 2.232 million, according to the report. Iran was OPEC’s second-biggest producer last year, supplying 3.54 million barrels. Nigeria was the seventh-largest with 2.048 million.
Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest member, exported 6.644 million barrels a day of crude last year, of which 64 percent was sent to the Asia and Pacific region. It produced 8.165 million barrels, less than its 2009 output of 8.184 million barrels.
Of OPEC’s 12 members, Iraq, Qatar, Algeria, Libya, Angola and Venezuela exported less in 2010 than a year earlier. All those countries except Iraq also produced less in 2010.
OPEC production averaged 29.183 million barrels a day in 2010, an increase of less than 1 percent of the 28.927 million barrels a day it supplied in 2009, the bulletin showed.