Two Iranian-Flagged Tankers Reportedly Arrive in Venezuela as Maduro Vows to Improve Gasoline Output

In May, five Iranian tankers delivered more than a million barrels of oil to Venezuela, hit by a serious fuel shortage caused by US sanctions.

The second of three Iranian-flagged tankers has arrived in fuel-starved Venezuela, Russ Dallen, head of the Miami-based investment firm Caracas Capital Markets, who tracks Venezuela shipments, was cited by the AP news agency as saying.

The tanker Forest with 275,000 barrels of gasoline on board and the Fortune entered Venezuelan waters on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, with the third ship, Faxon, expected to reach the South American country before the end of this week.

There was no word on how much gasoline the Fortune and the Faxon were carrying, but Dallen said that the flotilla would deliver a total of 815,000 barrels of fuel to Venezuela.


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REUTERS / MANAURE QUINTERO

People on motorcycles refill gasoline at a gas station in San Antonio, near Caracas, Venezuela September 9, 2020

The developments come as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday pledged to improve the situation with gasoline output and distribution in his country, in line with a new plan that he said would be made public in the coming days.

“The gasoline we have purchased from abroad for October is arriving, and we are making purchases for later months. Venezuela needs to produce all it consumes”, Maduro said in a state television broadcast.

The remarks followed Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi indicating in June Tehran’s willingness to go ahead with its oil shipments to Venezuela if “Caracas demands more [such] supplies from Iran”, which Mousavi added is practicing “its free trade rights with Venezuela”.

Mousavi spoke after five Iranian tankers, the Clavel, the Faxon, the Fortune, the Forest, and the Petunia, delivered more than a million barrels of oil to the US sanctions-hit South American nation in late May.

US Sanctions Against Venezuela, Iran

Washington started introducing harsh economic sanctions against the Venezuelan economy, which is in the grip of an ongoing crisis, back in 2018, in an effort to oust democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro.

A lot of the sanctions targeted the country’s state-run oil and gas company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and its subsidiaries, in an attempt to seize its foreign assets and prevent the firm from completing transactions. In the latest development, the US announced new sanctions against Maduro, imposed over his cooperation with Iran.

As far as Iran is concerned, the US reinstated its restrictive measures against the Islamic Republic in May 2018, when President Trump announced Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The move prompted Tehran to start suspending some of its JCPOA-related obligations exactly a year later.

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