The first shipment of Iranian five lead vessels, carrying an enormous amount of fuel to the gasoline-thirsty country of Venezuela, will be reaching soon near one of the state-run PDVSA’s ports. The Iranian tankers, which traveled across the Atlantic, were being escorted by the Venezuelan navy and air force as there were concerns that the US could intervene in such trade partnership between the two countries that are currently under the US sanction.
Venezuela’s Maduro Thanked Tehran
According to shipping data on Refinitiv Eikon (RE), “The five Iranian tankers – Fortune, Forest, Petunia, Faxon, and Clavel – carrying about 1.5m barrels of fuel” have passed through the Suez Canal earlier this month heading towards South America. According to a company source and RE data showing its trajectory, Tanker Fortune was due to arrive at PDVSA’s El Palito port, close to the capital Caracas on Sunday.
Upon the expected arrival of the first fuel shipment of an Iranian vessel, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro thanked Tehran on Sunday. Meanwhile, it was reported that a second vessel, the Forest, entered the Caribbean Sea on Saturday and the three remaining vessels were crossing the Atlantic.
Iran’s fuel shipping to Venezuela was likely to cause further uneasiness in the relationship between Washington and Caracas since the Trump administration said earlier this month it was considering “measures” to take in response to the shipments, without providing specifics. Washington has slapped sanctions on PDVSA as part of its effort to oust Maduro, a socialist who has witnessed a six-year economic collapse and was accused by opponents of rigging his 2018 re-election vote.
Maduro’s Responses to US Warning
According to a source, Venezuela’s refining network has been devastated and disturbed due to the US imposition of sanction and the country had to rely on fuel import. Citing the strong partnership between Tehran and Caracas, Maduro said in a state television address, “Venezuela and Iran both want peace, and we have the right to trade freely,” and referred to the two countries as “revolutionary peoples who will never kneel down before the North American empire.”
Meanwhile, US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Sunday, “This is a sad reminder of Maduro’s hopeless mismanagement,” adding that “Venezuelans need free and fair presidential elections leading to democracy and economic recovery, not Maduro’s expensive deals with another pariah state.”
Citing the US concerns on the trade deal between Iran and Venezuela, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday warned of retaliation if Washington has made attempts to block its oil tankers. Nonetheless, a Pentagon spokesperson reported that he was not aware of US military plans against Iranian fleets.
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