1st Iranian refined oil tanker docks in Venezuela

CARACAS, 26 May 2020:

The first of five Iranian tankers carrying a total of 245 million litres of gasoline to Venezuela has docked in the Andean nation, vice president Tareck el Aissami said yesterday.

“Images of the arrival of the first ship Fortune to our El Palito refinery. We are advancing and winning,” El Aissami wrote in a Twitter post including photos of the tanker at the petroleum complex in Puerto Cabello, west of Caracas.

Venezuela is one of the world’s largest producers of oil, but must import naphtha and other substances needed to refine its heavy, high-sulfur crude into fuel.

Sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the US – with the aim of toppling leftist president Nicolas Maduro – have prevented Venezuelan refineries from obtaining those substances, resulting in gas shortages that have forced drivers to sit in line for hours – and even days – to fill up their tanks.

Besides gasoline, the Iranians, who are also dealing with US sanctions, will supply Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA with naphtha and other commodities necessary to resume refining domestic crude.

“A heart-felt thank you to President (Hassan) Rouhani … and to all of Iran, for your solidarity, for your support, for your courage, for your resoluteness,” Maduro said Sunday after the Iranian ships entered Venezuelan territorial waters.

The delivery is part of cooperation between Venezuela and Iran, “two peaceful peoples” whose only agenda is pursuing economic and social development, Maduro said.

“We will never bow down to the US empire,” he said. “Venezuela has friends in this world and brave friends who put everything on the line for our homeland.”

The Trump administration denounced the deal between Caracas and Tehran and said the US would closely monitor the shipment.

Venezuela interpreted those comments as a threat of military action and lodged a complaint against Washington with the UN.

Iran, meanwhile, cautioned the US not to move against the ships, according to semi-official Iranian news agency Mehr.

“If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face trouble caused by the Americans, they (the US) will also be in trouble,” Rouhani said Saturday in a telephone conversation with the emir of Qatar, Mehr reported.

“Iran will never initiate a conflict,” Rouhani said. “We have always the legitimate right to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity and to serve our national interests, and we hope that the Americans will not commit an error.”

Satellite images show the Iranian tanker named “Fortune” is completing its berthing operation while being helped by two Venezuelan tug boats at El Palito refinery.

The Iranian tanker was escorted by the Venezuelan Navy in order to reach the Venezuelan port without facing any incidents may cause due to the US threats.

The second Iranian tanker named “Forest” has already arrived in Caribbean Sea.

Three other Iranian oil tankers are “Faxon”, “Petunia” and “Clavel” that are passing Atlantic Ocean to reach Venezuela.

– EFE, Bernama