Venezuela now holds the largest proven oil reserves in the world, overtaking Saudi Arabia, according to BP Plc.
The South American country’s deposits were at 296.5 billion barrels at the end of last year, surpassing Saudi Arabia’s 265.4 billion barrels, BP said today in its annual Statistical Review of World Energy. The 2010 estimate for Venezuela was revised to the same amount, up from 211.2 billion in the previous report.
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. North Sea Brent crude, a benchmark for more than half of the world’s oil, averaged $107.38 a barrel in 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
One reason for the revisions is that 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.
Venezuelan reserves account for 17.9 percent of the global total, with Saudi Arabia’s share at 16.1 percent, according to the report. Canada ranks third with 175.2 billion barrels, or 10.6 percent of the worldwide total, unchanged from the revised number for 2010.
Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s president, will more than double the country’s oil-production capacity to 6 million barrels a day by 2019 if re-elected on Oct. 7, according to a government plan released yesterday on his website.
Russia, the world’s biggest crude producer, 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. Brazil’s share rose 7.3 percent to 15.1 billion barrels, BP said.
Reserves in Norway increased last year, snapping 11 years of decline, according to BP. The country’s deposits rose to 6.9 million barrels, compared with a revised figure of 6.8 million in 2010.
BP said the estimates in today’s 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.