(Reuters) – The first of a group of three tankers carrying Iranian fuel for gasoline-starved Venezuela entered the waters of the South American nation on Monday, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, in the most recent sign of the countries’ expanding trade.
On Monday, the Iranian oil tanker Forest, transporting about 270,000 barrels of fuel loaded in the Middle East, entered Venezuela’s exclusive economic zone, approaching PDVSA’s El PalitoThe vessel crossed the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea without any disturbances, according to the data.
The two following Iranian tankers, the Faxon and the Fortune are covering the same route, with estimated dates of arrival in early October. Although both countries are under tough U.S. sanctions, Washington has not moved to intercept the vessels, which made previous fuel deliveries to Venezuela from May through June.
The United States in July seized a group of Iranian cargoes aboard privately owned vessels bound for Venezuela through a civil forfeiture case. The fuel is expected to be auctioned soon, with the proceeds going to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.
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 it. Yahya Rahim-Safavi, former chief commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (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.”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.
Separately, an Iranian very large crude carrier (VLCC) is expected to leave this week from Venezuela’s Jose port with 1.9 million barrels of Venezuelan heavy oil for the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), according to a source and PDVSA loading schedules. The NIOC did not respond to questions about the plan.