Iranian fuel tanker moors at Venezuela refinery
Iran is providing Venezuela with 1.53 million barrels of petrol and components in a move criticised by the US
The first of five Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela has moored at Venezuela's El Palito refinery, Iran's English-language Press TV reported on Monday.
Iran is providing Venezuela with 1.53 million barrels of petrol and components in a move criticised by US authorities as both countries are under US-imposed sanctions, according to the governments, sources and calculations by TankerTrackers.com.
"The Iranian oil/chem Handymax tanker Fortune, which loaded 43 million liters of gasoline during mid-March at Port Shahid Rajaee, Iran, has now moored at berth 2 at the refinery of El Palito, Venezuela, situated west of capital city, Caracas," tweeted TankerTrackers.com.
A second vessel, the Forest, entered the Caribbean Sea on Saturday. The three remaining vessels were crossing the Atlantic.
The Trump administration said this month that it was considering "measures" in response to the shipments but did not elaborate.
Venezuela's refining network has been operating this year at about 10 per cent of its 1.3 million bpd capacity, forcing it to rely on imports. US sanctions limit the sources and types of fuel it can receive.
Mr Maduro said the tankers were bringing petrol and inputs to its refineries to produce petrol.
Washington has steadily hardened sanctions on PDVSA as part of its effort to dismiss Mr Maduro, a socialist who has overseen a six-year economic collapse and is accused by opponents of rigging his 2018 re-election vote.
"This is a sad reminder of Maduro's hopeless mismanagement," US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Sunday. "Venezuelans need free and fair presidential elections leading to democracy and economic recovery, not Maduro's expensive deals with another pariah state."
Last week, a Pentagon spokesman said he was unaware of any military move planned against the vessels. But Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday warned of retaliation if Washington caused problems for the tankers.
Updated: May 26, 2020 09:58 AM