Iran's Tanker Convoy of Gasoline Sailing To Venezuela
Radio Farda May 18, 2020
Iran yesterday warned the United States not to interfere with a convoy of five Iranian tankers heading towards Venezuela and loaded with approximately 220-240 million litters of gasoline.
According to TankerTrackers.com an oil shipping analysis firm, five Iranian flagged tankers FORTUNE, PETUNIA, FOREST, FAXON and CLAVEL were loaded in the Persian Gulf Port Shahid Rajaee in March and April.
At this point it is not clear if the United States has any plans to interdict the Iranian vessels, but it has not made any threats.
Years of instability in Venezuela has disrupted its refining capacity and forced oil rich country to buy gasoline on the international market while Iran's oil exports have come to a standstill with U.S. sanctions imposed in 2018, forcing it to look for any buyers far and beyond.
Iran and Venezuela have been allies for more than a decade since the onset of Hugo Chavez presidency and during Nicholas Maduro's rule.
Iran has also recently conducted flights to Venezuela using the U.S. sanctioned Mahan Air to deliver key spare parts for the beleaguered Venezuelan oil industry. The two countries allegedly exchanged gold in the transaction.
TankerTrackers.com located the tankers Fortune and Petunia at the Shaid Rajaee port on March 13 and April 19 respectively.
The convoy of ships passed through Suez Cannel earlier this month and now has a trajectory towards Venezuela.
In an interesting plot twist the Clavel broadcast its destination as Rotterdam on May 14, however several hours later it changed it back to Caracas. The first of the convoy Fortune and Petunia are projected to reach Caracas on May 27.
Iran does not have many of these small oil and chemical tankers and they are usually "used for domestic transfers " according to TankerTrackers.
Considering how cut off Venezuela and Iran are from the international money markets it is reasonable to assume that the transaction was completed with gold exchange.
Although the Caribbean waters contain many EU territories it is safe to assume that Iran will be avoiding an incident similar to the faith of its supertanker GRACE 1 last year when Gibraltar stopped the vessel on suspicion of transporting oil to Syria.
Radio Farda is working with TankerTrackers on this developing story.
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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