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Venezuela claims oil-reserves top spot

Venezuela has toppled Saudi Arabia as holder of the world’s largest proved crude oil reserves, according to Opec


The change at the top follows the cartel’s decision to certify oil from the vast La Faja field as heavy crude, rather than tar.

The decision boosts Venezuela’s proved reserves cache by 40.4%, to 296.5 billion barrels. According to Opec’s Annual Statistical Bulletin, Saudi Arabia’s reserves remain static, at 264.5 billion barrels. Overall, Opec reserves have increased 12.1% since last year.

The reserves revision means the Latin American country now holds 24.8% of Opec’s total proved reserves, and almost 20% of global resources. Saudi Arabia makes up 22.2% of Opec’s total, while Iran has 12.7%.

The La Faja oil belt, along the Orinoco river, is estimated to host 220 billion barrels of oil. Opec said that the decision to reclassify La Faja’s reserves as heavy crude followed a series of meetings between the cartel and Venezuelan officials earlier this year. Opec’s Annual Statistical Bulletin will be officially launched in November 2011 .

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