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by Stephen Lendman Friday, May. 26, 2006 at 7:32 AM


New Estimate of Venezuela's Total Oil Reserves Makes

It the Grandest of Grand Prizes for US - by Stephen


I just finished reading an important new book the

author's publisher sent me, which I'll shortly be

reviewing for publication. The book is investigative

journalist (and in his words "forensic economist")

Greg Palast's latest foray into exposing the hidden

from view crimes and wrongdoings of the Bush

administration. I'm very familiar with Palast's

important work and can only wish many others of his

profession did the same sort of it he does - his job.

Sadly most don't, but luckily we have some who do, and

we should pay close heed to what they tell us.

They're our window to the dangerous world around us,

and the information they provide is our protection

from it.

Palast's book is almost encyclopedic in detail, but I

only want to focus here on one part of it that relates

to Venezuela. In it Palast provides information

showing the country may be of far greater strategic

importance to the US than we likely realized. It all

relates to a somewhat arcane theory called Hubbert's

peak that many readers may not know about or

understand well if they do. Before reading Greg's

book, I knew about it but didn't understand it as well

as I do now.

M. King Hubbert was a well-respected geologist of his

time who on March 7, 1956 published a research paper

explaining his notion of "peak oil," the amount of

total reserves likely to be available, when production

would peak, and when we would likely exhaust a finite

supply. Ever since his report came out, it's been

held up as gospel by many who follow the oil market.

The essence of the Hubbert theory, whether we accept

it or not, was that "peak oil" would be reached around

this year. However, in fact, production rose every

year since Hubbert's prediction and new discoveries of

oil have so far kept pace.

A New Interpretation of "Hubbert's Peak"

M. King Hubbert may have been a fine geologist

deserving of the his reputation. But today we know

much more than Hubbert did in his time, and it's

currently believed by some savvy analysts that we're

nowhere near peaking or running out of oil. Palast

sides with that view and concludes that we have enough

oil left untapped to last many decades into the

future. Why? Because there's oil and then there's oil

- there's the easy to find and refine kind called

"light sweet" like what's abundant in the Middle East,

and there's also the harder to find, more expensive to

refine so-called "heavy crude" and oil available from

tar sands. When the latter two categories are added

in, the amount of total oil available skyrockets to

off-the-chart numbers.

Palast makes a key point related to the price of

crude. At a barrel the supply is low because only

the easy to extract and refine kind are economically

feasible. But at a barrel it's a whole new oil

market. The heavy stuff and tar sands then become

economical to extract and refine, and a new far higher

finite supply is realized almost magically. In short,

it's just a question of supply and demand and how the

price of a commodity depends on how much of it

consumers want. Too little demand and the price is

low, but when it's high like now and rising, then so

does the price.

How This Relates to Venezuela

From what we know for sure plus what we think we may

know about Venezuelan "total" oil reserves, I suggest

the reader first take a seat and buckle up. In

previous articles, I reported Venezuela may have

reserves of about 350 billion barrels if all their

known heavy and light crude are counted. That total

is far more than is now officially recognized by OPEC

which means unofficially the country has greater

reserves than Saudi Arabia by that number alone.

But wait, there's more, a lot more. Palast reports a

US Energy Department expert believes Venezuela holds

90% of the world's super-heavy tar oil reserves - an

estimated total of 1,360,000,000,000 (1.36 trillion)

barrels. Let me repeat that - 1.36 trillion barrels.

That alone is more oil than Hubbert believed 50 years

ago lay under the entire planet.

Again, back to the key issue. Whatever the true

highest estimate of reserves is from all varieties of

oil, those reserves are only available at a price. If

it ever gets too low again, which looks unlikely,

those heavy reserves and tar sands oil will again go

off the charts and be uncounted. However, with

today's heavy demand and the likelihood of it

continuing to grow in the future, the price of oil may

continue to rise and all reserves from all sources may

be needed and used to supply the market.

So with a report like this coming from an apparent

credible source (according to Palast) in the US Energy

Department, it takes little imagination for VHeadline

readers to understand more than ever that Venezuela is

likely viewed by any US administration as the world's

most important source of future oil supply. And to

readers who understand US imperial intentions, it

takes even less insight to realize the Bush

administration intends to go all out to get its hands

on it even if it takes a war to do it. The US goal

isn't access to the oil. It's control of the supply

and its price, what countries get it and how much and

which ones don't, what companies profit from it, and

overall how this ocean of oil can be used as a

strategic resource and weapon. Beyond question, the

stakes are enormous, and the battle lines are now

drawn more clearly than ever.

I've reported before on VHeadline that the US is now

planning a fourth attempt to oust Hugo Chavez by

whatever means it has in mind. I think the wheels of

its plan are now in motion, but we won't know what

will unfold until the fireworks begin. With the

information now available and published here, I feel

more certain than ever that US instigated serious

trouble is heading toward Venezuela and maybe harsher

than we might expect. Venezuela's likely total oil

reserves are potentially so great that the country has

to be the grandest of grand prizes for the US. It's a

virtual certainty the US will do anything it takes to

try to seize and control it. For those of us who

respect the sovereign rights of all nations and the

obligation their leaders have above all else to serve

the needs of their people, we can only hope Hugo

Chavez is prepared for what he knows is coming and

will again succeed in deterring it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog

site at

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