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A new US assessment of Venezuela's oil reserves could give the country double the supplies of Saudi Arabia.
Scientists working for the US Geological Survey say Venezuela's Orinoco belt region holds twice as much petroleum as previously thought.
The geologists estimate the area could yield more than 500bn barrels of crude oil.
This assessment is far more optimistic than even the best case scenario put forward by President Hugo Chavez.
An estimated 513 billion barrels of technically recoverable heavy oil are in Venezuela’s Orinoco Oil Belt.
This area contains one of the world's largest recoverable oil accumulations, and this assessment is the first to identify how much is technically recoverable (producible using currently available technology and industry practices).
“Knowing the potential for extractable resources from this tremendous oil accumulation, and others like it, is critical to our understanding of the global petroleum potential and informing policy and decision makers,” said USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator Brenda Pierce. “Accumulations like this one were previously very difficult to produce, but advances in technology and new understandings in geology allow us to assess how much is now technically recoverable."
G'day ATS, this could be quite a story, possibly a major development that if proven correct could alter the balance of power in a world running out of crude oil.