Venezuela oil reserves twice Saudi Arabia's ?  

Posted by Big Gav

"Business Intelligence Middle east" has an article on a strange USGS assessment of Venezuelan oil reserves, which appears to be based on some sort of fantasy number for oil recovery rates - Venezuela oil reserves may be twice the size of Saudi Arabia's.

A new US government assessment of Venezuela's oil reserves could give the country double the supplies of Saudi Arabia.

Venezuela's Orinoco oil region contains about 513 billion barrels of crude that could technically be recovered by energy companies if cost were not an issue, the report said on Friday.

Scientists working for the US Geological Survey say Venezuela's Orinoco belt region holds twice as much petroleum as previously thought. This assessment is far more optimistic than even the best case scenario put forward by President Hugo Chavez.

It is the largest crude oil resource assessment ever done by the US Geological Survey for one area and its first for the Orinoco Oil Belt, a region in central Venezuela that contains heavy, thick crude that does not flow very easily.

Not all the region's oil in the USGS' resource estimate could be drilled at a profit, but the agency does not have a projection on how much of the Orinoco oil could be profitably drilled. "We don't say anything about the economics of the oil," said agency spokesman Chris Schenk. Schenk said the estimate was based on oil recovery rates of 40% to 45%.

The agency said its new estimate on the region's oil resources was based on advances in technology and new understanding in geology that "allow us to assess how much is now technically recoverable."

Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), Venezuela's state oil company, has not commented on the news. However, Venezuelan oil geologist and former PDVSA board member Gustavo Coronel was sceptical.

"I doubt the recovery factor could go much higher than 25% and much of that oil would not be economic to produce", he told Associated Press news agency.

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