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Venezuela’s `black gold’ bonanza

Huge reserves will make nation the world’s leading oil source, writes Natalie Pearson Beneath the plains and winding tributaries of the Orinoco River lie what Venezuela believes is the planet’s largest oil deposit – a tar-soaked basin that could help meet spiraling global energy needs. It’s known as the “Faja,” or “belt” – a strip three times the area of Kuwait potentially holding 1.2 trillion barrels of extra-heavy oil.

Of all the unconventional sources of oil, the one that gets the least attention … but in my opinion is the most economic is the Orinoco,” said Robert Skinner of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. “They’ve demonstrated that they can produce this stuff at very low cost,” he said, explaining that producing a barrel of Venezuelan synthetic crude can cost US$16 (HK$124.8) a barrel, compared to a barrel from Canadian tar sands that can go as high as US$30. Orinoco crude can be produced economically as long as the oil price stays above US$22 a barrel, he said.


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