Iran and Venezuela Continue Oil Shipments Despite US Sanctions
According to Bloomberg reports, Iran is sending a large fleet of oil tankers to Venezuela to help the Latin American nation survive a severe lack of fuel. Both countries are facing U.S. sanctions targeting their oil trade. According to the sources, some of the fleet of around ten Iranian vessels will also help export Venezuelan crude after discharging fuel.
The current fleet under sail is about double the size of the one that first startled international observers in May when crossing part of the Caribbean Sea patrolled by the U.S. Navy, they said. The last Iranian fuel shipments sent in early October on five vessels are running out, threatening steeper nationwide shortages.
The sources said that the two nations are also discussing ways for Iran to help Venezuela overhaul its Cardon refinery. Venezuela has experienced a sharp decrease in its revenue from oil exports and a decline in its refining plants’ technical capabilities due to the U.S. sanctions.
“We’re watching what Iran is doing and making sure that other shippers, insurers, ship owners, ship captains realize they must stay away from that trade,” the U.S.’ special representative for Iran and Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, said in September.
Despite previous threats from Washington to halt fuel flow into Venezuela, Iran has remained adamant about the shipments, repeatedly stating they would continue.
Iran and Venezuela have both been hit by sweeping U.S. sanctions, including restrictions targeting their energy sectors. Washington, which has been openly seeking to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, has offered support to self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido while slapping Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA with sanctions.
As a result, Venezuelan oil exports, which account for most of the country’s budget revenue, tanked to multi-year lows. Oil production in the country, which has the world’s largest reserves, has plunged to a 75-year low.