Three Iranian tankers approach Venezuela with fuel cargoes

September 29, 2020 - 18:41

The first of three Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela arrived on Monday night, demonstrating the ability of the Iranian and Venezuelan governments to bypass American sanctions, according to The Maritime Executive.

The tanker Forest arrived at the El Palito refinery near Puerto Cabello sometime on Monday night, according to TankerTrackers.com, bringing with her a cargo of much-needed gasoline for Venezuelan consumers. Two more, the Fortune and the Faxon, are expected on October 1 and October 4, respectively. All three are Iranian-flagged and Iranian-operated. 

The Forest, transporting some 270,000 barrels of fuel, entered Venezuela’s exclusive economic zone around 8:05 a.m. EDT (1205 GMT). The vessel crossed the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea without any disturbances, according to the data.

The Forest, Faxon, and Fortune are together expected to deliver about 820,000 barrels of gasoline and other fuels, helping to ease shortages in Venezuela.

Following a virtual meeting between officials of both governments on Monday to discuss trade, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, said in a statement that Iran had masterly overcome the “unilateral punitive measures” against Caracas, Reuters reported.

Venezuela is in the midst of a dire fuel shortage, driven by a combination of tough U.S. sanctions and a long-term decline in the maintenance of its refineries. Early this year, the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reached an agreement with Iran for the delivery of five tanker cargoes (about 1.5 million barrels) of gasoline. The Forest, Faxon, and Fortune were part of that shipment, along with the Iranian tankers Petunia and Clavel. The United States added the masters of all five ships to its travel and banking blacklist for their involvement.

Yahya Rahim-Safavi, former chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), told reporters on Sunday that Iran helped “every Muslim and non-Muslim country” that asks for assistance.
He said Iran received gold bars in exchange for the gasoline previously delivered to Venezuela, sent by airplane “so that nothing would happen to it.”

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