JEDDAH – Venezuela surpassed Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest holder of proven oil reserves, the BP “Statistical Review of World Energy 2012” said.
Saudi Arabia now trails Venezuela with a 16 percent share of world proven oil reserves, according to the report. Canada ranks third with 175.2 billion barrels, or 11 percent of total, unchanged from the revised number for 2010.w
The South American country’s deposits were at 296.5 billion barrels at the end of last year, data from BP Plc show. Saudi Arabia held 265.4 billion barrels, BP report said. The 2010 estimate for Venezuela increased from 211.2 billion in the previous report.
“These reserves are quantified and certified by third parties and recognized by the entire world as being the biggest proven reserves of the world,” Venezuela’s Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said today in Vienna. “We have always said that in the future the natural resources will become scarce and when the economy recovers and demand will come back then we will be one of the few countries able to respond to that.”
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela wants to more than double the country’s oil- production capacity to 6 million barrels a day by 2019, according to a government plan released June 12. The world’s biggest oil-exporting nations faced a 15 percent slump in crude prices last month, the biggest decline since December 2008, on speculation Europe’s debt crisis would derail the global economic recovery.
Ramirez has said oil prices need to be higher than $100 a barrel. The recent slump in crude is dangerous for producers, the Oil Minister said June 12 in Vienna, where the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is meeting today to decide production quotas.
Brent futures fell 14 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $96.99 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange at 4:04 p.m. London time Friday.
Global reserves advanced to 1.65 trillion barrels at the end of last year, a 1.9 percent increase from a revised 1.62 trillion in 2010, BP said. Venezuela now holds 18 percent of the world’s reserves, according to BP data.
BP revised its estimates on reserves in part because the company publishes its report in June, before most governments issue their annual reserves figures, said Robert Wine, a BP spokesman. Last year’s record average oil price also had an effect, increasing the commercial viability of hard-to-reach deposits, he said.
Venezuela’s deposits may be difficult to extract, according to Strategic Energy & Economic Research. “People still know that a lot of that is very hard to develop and is not as readily accessible the way Saudi reserves are,” Michael Lynch, the researcher’s president, said today in Vienna. “It’s the same with Canadian oil sands.”
Russia boosted its deposits to 88.2 billion barrels from a revised 86.6 billion a year earlier, according to BP. Russia’s share of the total is 5.3 percent. Reserves in Norway increased last year, snapping 11 years of declines, according to BP. The country’s deposits rose to 6.9 billion barrels, compared with a revised figure of 6.8 billion in 2010.
BP said the estimates in the report are a combination of official sources, OPEC data and other third-party estimates. Deposits include gas condensates and natural-gas liquids, as well as crude.
Global oil consumption increased 0.7 percent or 0.6 million barrels a day to reach 88 million barrels a day in 2011, marking the weakest global growth rate among fossil fuels in BP’s statistical review. Oil consumption in member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, declined 1.2 percent to its lowest level since 1995, while oil consumption outside the OECD grew 2.8 percent in 2011, BP said.
“Despite strong oil prices, oil consumption growth was below average in producing regions of the Middle East and Africa due to regional unrest,” the oil giant said.
China was the largest contributor to a rise in global oil demand growth in 2011, increasing its total oil demand by 505,000 barrels a day or 5.5 percent in 2011, although the growth rate was below its 10-year average, BP said. Meanwhile middle distillates were again the fastest-growing refined product category by volume, for the seventh time in the past 10 years, the oil major added.
In non-OPEC countries, output was broadly flat, with increases in the US, Canada, Russia and Colombia offsetting continued declines in mature areas such as the UK and Norway, as well as unexpected outages in a number of other countries. The US registered the largest increase among non-OPEC producers for the third consecutive year, driven by continued strong growth in onshore shale liquids output, which pushed US oil output to its highest level since 1998, BP said. – SG/Agencies