Monday, August 1, 2011

Chavez wants higher OPEC quota for Venezuela

* Sees Venezuela producing 8-9 million bpd by 2031

* Wants producer group to raise production allowance

By Deisy Buitrago

CARACAS,(Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez urged the OPEC producer group on Friday to raise its quota for the South American nation given its vast reserves in the Orinoco heavy crude belt.

Venezuela's quota is around 3 million barrels per day, but it aspires to produce far more than that in the coming years through ambitious joint venture projects in the Orinoco.

OPEC recently said Venezuela leapfrogged Saudi Arabia to become the world's No. 1 holder of crude reserves, with more than 296.5 billion barrels, albeit much of that tar-like extra heavy oil.

"It has to come in a progressive manner, of course, a reformatting of the quotas so that Venezuela receives bigger quotas," Chavez said during a meeting with ministers shown live on state TV.

"That of course will be part of discussions and decisions by OPEC, but that will be the case."

Venezuela's output in 2010 was 2.97 million bpd.

Chavez said that if OPEC lifts Venezuela's quota, the country could produce between 8-9 million bpd by 2031.

The projects in the Orinoco belt are slated eventually to add 2.1 million bpd of production and to bring in some $80 billion in investment. (Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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