Oil Output Reaches Post-Strike Record

Venezuela reached its highest crude production levels since before the 2002-03 oil workers' strike on Thursday, when output totalled 3.38 million barrels a day (Mb/d), state oil firm PDVSA deputy E&P president Luis Vierma told reporters.

"Production is practically at the limits we planned for this date. These 3.38Mb/d include our own efforts, the JVs and the Orinoco oil belt projects," Vierma said during a brief recess at the OPEC meeting in Caracas.

Vierma did not give a production breakdown, saying only that PDVSA's western division based in oil-rich Zulia state is now producing some 984,000b/d. That output level would signal a major recovery at the division, which saw production fall sharply last year due to problems ranging from alleged corruption to sabotage by foreign powers, according to government statements at the time.

The new production figures mean that the 3.4Mb/d goal for end-2006 has practically been reached.

Earlier this year the International Energy Agency (IEA) included liquids, extra-heavy crude and condensates in its calculation of Venezuela's daily production, a move that meant an upwards reassessment of the country's 2005 production to 3.1Mb/d.

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