A picture is worth 10,000 words #2: Venezuela’s oil production

December 7, 2006

The great debate about how much oil was Venezuela producing arose because in let’s say 2000, the country was producing 3.1 million barrels of oil a day and after the strike the Government began saying it was already back up to that level. Data was however hard to come by and PDVSA would deny that the IEA and OPEC numbers, saying Venezuela was not producing that much were right. On top of that up to last week, PDVSA had not submitted financials to the SEC. It finally did last week for the 2004 financials, only a year and half late under the new rojo, rojito inefficient management. The filings include oil production which is not audited, but there are criminal penalties if false information is given. Below I plot oil production figures from 2000 to 2004.

As you can see, in 2000 and 2001, crude oil production was at the 3.1 million levels, if you added liquid petroleum gas it would go up by 50,000 barrels and if you added natural gas, it would reach 4 million barrels, which is shown as total hydrocarbons in the figure. Problem is, crude oil production never includes natural gas, which on top of that is measured in cubic feet and not barrels. Thus, it should not be included in total production. As you can see in the figure, PDVSA’s crude oil production in 2004 was only at 2.73 million barrels a day, half a million barrels below what PDVSA was saying. Even adding heavy crudes produced by others it does not reach 3 million. And if people want to include natural gas, then the benchmark should be 4 million and not 3.1 million. The graph clearly shows how the country has lost production capability. Later I will show this has happened in the most expensive types of crudes.


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