Vienna: Venezuela is now the country with the most proven crude oil reserves on the planet, 296.5 billion barrels, according to the Annual Statistical Bulletin of the Organization of the Oil Exporting Countries.
The South American country`s known reserves grew between 2009 and 2010 by 40 percent, compared with the stagnation of Saudi Arabia`s reserves, which OPEC figures to be 264.52 billion barrels.
Ecuador, the other Latin American member of OPEC, in 2010 had reserves of 7.2 billion barrels, 10 percent more than it possessed the previous year.
In all, OPEC calculates that the planet had 1.46 trillion barrels of known crude oil reserves as of 2010, of which the 12 members of the petroleum cartel hold 81.3 percent.
That percentage grew from 79.6 percent in 2009, mainly thanks to Venezuela`s increase in reserves.
Two other OPEC nations, Iran, with 151.17 billion barrels, and Iraq with 143.1 billion barrels, are ranked third and fourth, respectively, in terms of known crude oil reserves.
Next on the list are non-OPEC members Russia, with 79.43 billion barrels, and Kazakhstan, with 39.8 billion barrels.
Brazil, with reserves of 12.86 billion, and Mexico, with 11.69 billion barrels, are also not part of OPEC.
Although Venezuela has the largest reserves, with regard to the capacity to exploit its oil Saudi Arabia continues to be the world`s undisputed main producer with the ability to pump more than 8 million barrels per day.
Venezuela, meanwhile, extracts about 2.8 million bpd.
The Andean nation is the world`s No. 5 oil exporter and a key supplier to the US.