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Oil and gas: Venezuela

Hydrocarbon Engineering,


  • Venezuela contains some of the largest oil and natural gas proven reserves in the world.
  • At the start of the year, Venezuela had nearly 298 billion bbls of proved oil reserves, the largest in the world.
  • Last year, Venezuela was the third largest exporter of crude oil to the US.
  • The country is a founding member of OPEC.
  • In 2012, Venezuela consumed 3.3 quadrillion Btu of total energy.
  • Oil represents the majority of total energy consumed in the country but use of natural gas has increased over the last five years.

Petroleum and other liquids

  • Last year, Venezuela was the world’s 9th largest exporter and 12th largest producer of petroleum and other liquids.
  • The country’s oil industry was nationalised in the 1970s, creating PDVSA, the state run oil and gas company.
  • Crude oil and condensates represented 2.2 million bbls of total production in Venezuela in 2013.
  • Last year, Venezuela was the 5th largest producer in the Americas, following the US, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
  • Conventional crude oil in the country is heavy and sour by international standards.
  • In 2013, net exports from Venezuela totalled nearly 1.7 million bpd of crude oil and petroleum products.
  • Last year, the US imported 797 000 bpd of crude and petroleum products from Venezuela, a decline of nearly 49% from 10 years ago.
  • 10 years ago, the US exported 7000 bpd to Venezuela, last year it exported 84 000 bpd.
  • The US does receive the bulk of Venezuel’s exports but other important destinations include the Caribbean, Asia and Europe.


  • Much of Venezuela’s oil production must go to specialised domestic and international refineries as it is so heavy and sour.
  • In 2013 Venezuela had 1.3 million bpd of domestic crude oil refining capacity all operated by PDVSA.
  • Last year Venezuela maintained 2.8 million bpd of total global refining capacity in assets throughout the US, Caribbean and Europe.
  • The largest share of Venezuela’s global downstream operations is in the US.

Natural gas

  • Venezuela has the second largest natural gas reserves in the Americas, following the US.
  • At the start of this year, the country had 196 trillion ft3 of proved natural gas reserves.
  • In 2012, Venezuela produced 803 billion ft3 of dry natural gas and consumed 869 billion ft3.
  • To meet growing demand for natural gas, Venezuela imports gas from Colombia and the US.
  • In 1999, Venezuela adopted the Gas Hydrocarbons Law, which was meant to diversify the economy through facilitating non-associated natural gas development and expanding the role of natural gas in Venezuela’s energy sector.
  • PDVSA produces the largest amount of natural gas in Venezuela, and it is also the largest natural gas distributor.

Adapted for web by Claira Lloyd

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