Up to Five Iranian Tankers en Route to Venezuela Carrying Much-Needed Gasoline
Iran trying to restart Venezuela's economy
An Iranian tanker loaded with gasoline has set sail for Venezuela, Reuters reports, citing tanker tracking data. The cargo should help alleviate a growing shortage of gasoline in the sanctions-stricken South American country.
The Clavel, a medium tanker, loaded in March at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, and this week passed the Suez Canal, the data showed.
TankerTrackers.com co-founder Samir Madani confirmed the data to Oilprice.com, noting that there were several vessels en route from Iran to Venezuela, with the cargo all or mostly gasoline.
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Venezuela is in the grips of a major gasoline shortage as refineries are unable to operate at run rates higher than 10 percent because of a shortage of diluents necessary for the production of fuels as well as an urgent need for repairs.
Iran, a fellow target of U.S. sanctions, last month sent to Venezuela two plane loads of equipment and chemicals necessary for the production of gasoline as it agreed to help Caracas restart one refinery, with a capacity of 310,000 bpd. At the time, sources told the AP that 14 more flights were scheduled to arrive from Iran to Venezuela, some of them carrying refinery technicians.
Venezuela, according to a Bloomberg report, was paying Iran for its help with the refinery in gold, with nine tons of the precious metal already transferred to Iran. The Iranian Ambassador to Venezuela dismissed the report as a “baseless rumor”.
Whatever financial exchange is taking place, Venezuela is in dire need of help with its refineries. The problems with its gasoline supply began to emerge earlier this year as the United States continued to tighten the sanction noose around Caracas’ neck. At one point, a group of private companies even called on the government to allow gasoline imports to ease the pain caused by the state of the country’s refinery network and the suspension of gasoline imports from the U.S.
According to local legislation, the Venezuelan state is the only party that can sell gasoline on the local market.
Four other vessels of the same size, all of them flagged by Iran and loaded with fuel at or near Bandar Abbas, are about to cross the Atlantic Ocean after passing Suez. They have not yet set their final destinations, the data showed.
But one of them, the Fortune, appears on a list of tankers scheduled to enter Venezuelan ports, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Opposition politicians also said they had received information that all five tankers were heading to Venezuela.