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Venezuela’s poor little rich kid

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State oil company PDVSA has access to the world's largest oil reserves, but it has been slow to develop its riches, and a slump in world prices could plunge it into problems

Caracas – Rafael Ramirez, president of Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), had plenty to smile about when he released the company’s 2011 results in April.

Revenue rose a full 31 percent to $124.8 billion during the year, while net income jumped 43 percent to $4.6 billion, Ramirez said. The results were good enough to put PDVSA in second place on Latin Trade’s list of the region’s largest companies, right behind Petrobras.

“Few companies in Latin America have this level of revenue,” boasted Ramirez, who is also the country’s oil minister.

PDVSA has one advantage that no energy company can beat: it has access to the world’s largest oil reserves. Venezuela’s proven oil reserves come in at nearly 300 billion barrels, surpassing even Saudi Arabia.

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