OPEC member Venezuela will increase oil production gradually in 2010, then even more next year, President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday.
Chavez's comments contradicted previous statements by oil officials that Venezuela's production -- which they put at 3 million barrels per day -- will not increase this year.
International energy organizations put the South American nation's output closer to 2.3-2.4 million bpd currently.
We are going to increase oil output progressively from the end of this year, and in 2011 we will have an important rise, Chavez said on his weekly TV program Hello President.
Chavez gave no further explanation for his forecasts.
Venezuela has various projects in the pipeline to increase output from its Orinoco heavy-crude belt, but they are not expected to start coming on stream until 2012.
Chavez said production should rise by one million bpd between 2010 and 2015, though state oil firm PDVSA has forecast a production level of 5.8 million bpd in 2012.
Venezuela has the potential to raise production five-fold in the next two decades, the president added.
Venezuela agreed to a 380,000 bpd cut last year in line with OPEC reductions. But Chavez said Venezuela's planned output increases would not clash with OPEC quotas because there are OPEC nations unable to fulfill their quotas because their production has come down.
(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; editing by Todd Eastham)