World oil production has been steadily increasing since the reduction in demand and OPEC output during the 1980s oil glut. In 2006, Saudi Arabia held the world’s largest known oil reserve, whilst the Middle East in general possessed the lion’s share of the world’s known oil reserves. In a series of revised estimates of Venezuelan oil potential in the Orinoco Belt from 2007 onwards, Venezuelan oil reserve figures rose dramatically to 297 billion barrels, overtaking those of Saudi Arabia. Although countries such as Venezuela and Iraq possess huge oil production potential, lack of infrastructure and investment, and lack of commercial viability for much of Venezuela’s reserves, mean that countries such as Norway and Russia far outstrip them in terms of output and revenue. Many poorer countries with large oil reserves suffer from vulnerability linked to economic dependence on oil and an associated demise in other areas of the economy, known as the ‘Dutch Disease’.
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