The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, a notoriously conservative organization, has stated that Venezuela has world’s largest oil reserves, even exceeding those of OPEC’s top producer, Saudi Arabia.
Oil production in Venezuela is under the control of the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. company, or PDVSA.
Petroleum Intelligence Weekly lists PDVSA as the world’s fourth largest oil company, due to its proven reserves, production, refining and sales, MercoPress news agency reported.
PDVSA has recently been roiled by a pension scandal where millions were lost when they were invested in a Madoff-type Ponzi scheme overseen by Francisco Illarramendi, a Connecticut-based hedge fund manager with joint U.S.-Venezuelan citizenship, who used to work as a U.S.-based advisor to PDVSA.
PDVSA revenues underwrite many of the progressive social programs of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Concerned about the ongoing effects of the global recession on the national economy, on Wednesday President Chavez said that he would repatriate $11 billion in gold reserves held in overseas banks and diversify the nation’s fiscal reserves away from Western nations and into emerging economies like China, Russia and Brazil.
Venezuela’s gold reserves of $18.3 billion represent two-thirds of the country’s total reserves, with $11.1 billion currently held in foreign banks and the remaining $7.2 billion residing in Venezuela’s Central Bank.