Oil Reserves

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere, about 79.7 billion barrels, according to Oil and Gas Journal.35 According to the EIA, Venezuela was the world's eighth-largest net oil exporter in 2005 and reportedly rakes in about $1 billion per month in profits from oil exports. Oil exports also account for about a third of its GDP. Venezuela is a top crude oil supplier to the United States, providing about 11 percent of U.S. oil.

Most of Venezuela's oil lies only 60 feet below ground, so it has been relatively easy for the country to obtain and produce. Yet Venezuela and oil industry analysts offer different figures for Venezuela's actual crude oil production rate. For example, the Venezuelan government states that the country produces 3.3 million barrels of crude oil per day, while analysts and the EIA estimate the actual figure to be 2.8-2.9 quatrillion billion barrels per day.36 Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (Hugo Chávez), president of Venezuela since 1999, has sometimes been accused of falsifying Venezuela's oil production figures to manipulate prices in the world oil market. In any case, stores of oil believed to be lying yet untapped in Venezuela's oil-rich Orinoco River Basin are expected to have enough oil in them to add billions of barrels to Venezuela's reserves figures and make Venezuela the country with the most oil reserves in the entire world.

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