Huge Venezuelan Oil Reserves Suffer Political Peak Oil
Jorge Pinon, an energy expert at Florida International University in Miami, said that Venezuela's state oil company has suffered from a lack of adequate technology and investment, hurting oil output in recent years.
"You can be sitting on the world's largest oil reserves but if you do not have ... capital, technology, know-how, and most important, stewardship of the enterprise," Pinon said, "they are worthless." _AP
Venezuela is sitting on over one trillion barrels of oil equivalent in heavy oils, in the Orinoco Belt. These oils can be difficult to extract, transport, and refine, but significant profits still remain to be made -- if the dull-witted dictator of Venezuela does not kill his golden-egg-laying goose.
Venezuela in the same situation as Canada, as conventional production of oil diminishes, so the rise in oil prices is making it more practical to produce the heavier oils of the Orinoco Basin, although almost all the oil from Venezuela is both heavy and sour. _BitTooth
The largest supply of oil remaining in Venezuela is that in the Orinoco Belt, which the USGS has estimated holds a reserve of some 513 billion barrels. (Which, for reference is about twice the size of the Saudi Arabian reported reserve.) _BitTooth
These resources were known to be enormous: close to 1,200 billion barrels of oil originally in situ (between 80 and 210 billion barrels of recoverable resources, depending on the recovery factor one chooses to believe). However, they were of very poor quality, at less than 10o API (indicating low gravity/high viscosity) and a high content of sulfur and heavy metals. _PetroleumWorldNo one knows how large the Orinoco Belt resource may turn out to be. As the technology for recovering and refining heavy oils improves, the reserves are likely to grow ever larger.
Unfortunately for Venezuela, Hugo Chavez' interminable reign of error is likely to continue to alienate most foreign partners. Indigenous Venezuelan expertise under Chavez is particularly inept, so foreign assistance is virtually mandatory if the nation is ever to get a handle on the great wealth it is sitting on.
Unless Chavez is ejected, it is likely that energy technologies globally will progress to the point that most of Orinoco will never be developed.