Caracas: Venezuela, which has the world's largest certified reserves of petroleum, will become the top oil exporter within the next 10 years, President Hugo Chavez said.

“We will reach (exports of) around 10 million barrels (per day) in the next decade,” he said at an event in Caracas marking the delivery of new homes to capital residents displaced by floods.

“The Andean nation was the globe's No. 1 oil exporter from 1925 to 'nearly 1970' and remains among the leaders, 'but the Arabs - Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran (sic) - surpassed us”, Chavez said.

He said no other country can match Venezuela's certified reserves of 297 billion barrels, though much of it is in the form of heavy and extra-heavy crude that is more costly to refine.

“We are not desperate, but we are increasing production,” the president said.

Chavez said last week that Venezuela will boost oil output from the current level of around 3 million bpd to 3.5 million bpd in 2012. Currently the world's No. 5 oil exporter, the Andean nation sells around 1.5 million bpd to the US and another 500,000 bpd to China.

“When oil runs out in the world, the only country that is going to have oil is called Venezuela,' Chavez said. “Imagine the pressure there will be on Venezuela in the future.”

(Agencies)