UPDATE 2-Venezuela tops oil reserves league in OPEC table

Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:44pm GMT

* Proven oil reserves up 12.1 pct to 1.19 trln barrels

* Venezuela again leads increase in reserves

* Analysts sceptical of national reserves figures (Amends quote in paragraph 5, adds Iranian reaction paragraphs 8-9)

By Alex Lawler

LONDON, July 19 (Reuters) - OPEC's proven crude oil reserves rose 12.1 percent in 2010 to 1.19 trillion barrels led by Venezuela, which has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the group's largest reserves holder, OPEC said in its Annual Statistical Bulletin.

The latest figures are unlikely to quell scepticism about reserves estimates from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, some of which analysts say may be exaggerated although the producers deny doing so.

OPEC's growth in oil reserves was mainly due to Venezuela, whose holdings climbed to 296.5 billion barrels from 211.2 billion in 2009, the report said. Top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia's reserves were steady at 264.5 billion barrels.

Iran and Iraq also boosted their reserves last year. In October, Iran increased its reserves to 150 billion barrels within a week of an upward revision by Iraq, ensuring that Tehran continued to rank above Baghdad.

"OPEC has a fantastic history of competitive reserves upgrades," said Bill Farren-Price, analyst at Petroleum Policy Intelligence.   Continued...

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