Reports have just been issued that Venezuela’s proven oil reserves now surpass those of Saudi Arabia. The report is official. It comes straight from the Venezuelan government. But official and truthful are not the same thing, especially where Chavez is concerned. For the claim to be true, new discoveries would have had to add 41% during 2010 alone. An increase of 10% would be extraordinary.

Furthermore, a barrel is a measure of quantity and says nothing about quality. Saudi oil is light and sweet. Venezuelan crude is thick and impure. It requires greater refining and usually needs to be mixed with sweet light crude oil in the process. Extraction is easy in flat Saudi Arabia and difficult in Venezuela because it is found in the mountainous region surrounding the Orinoco River.

The South American country’s reserves are substantial whatever the real numbers may be, but they are no threat to Saudi dominance. Chavez is pumping up Chavez, not new oil, with his claim.

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