TEHRAN (Dispatches) - Venezuela and Iran, both sanctioned by the United States, have found a way to help each other as shipping companies stay away from dealings with the two oil-producing countries for fear of running afoul of the U.S.
Venezuela is shipping jet fuel to Iran in the same tankers in which Iran delivers gasoline and spare parts for the refineries in Venezuela, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the matter and documents of Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA it had seen.
Venezuela, which has an excess of jet fuel with flights grounded in the country over the past year due to the coronavirus, is sending aviation fuel to Iran, after having received gasoline from the Islamic Republic, according to Reuters’ sources.
Despite holding the world’s largest crude oil reserves, Venezuela has been suffering from acute gasoline shortages in recent years, as a result of lower production of crude and years of mismanagement at refineries, as well as U.S. sanctions, which have cut off gasoline imports from the United States.
With many international tanker firms refusing to carry Venezuelan oil or imported fuel for the country in fear of US retribution, the Iranian tankers have stepped in to carry out the task in "perfect trips” during which vessels have traveled fully laden in both directions.
"Each cargo is priced and compensated later. If there are differences in value between swap shipments, they are paid through future cargoes,” Reuters reported.
According to the news agency, the Iran-flagged tanker Fortune loaded 250,000 barrels of Venezuelan jet fuel in early February at the eastern port of Puerto La Cruz after discharging about 300,000 barrels of Iranian gasoline.
Both the Fortune and another Iran-owned tanker, the Faxon, which have made several trips from Iran’s Bandar Abbas port to Puerto La Cruz between May and February, were full again upon their departure from South America, it said.
Reports said this month Venezuela had begun receiving a shipment of catalysts from Iran to help its Paraguana Refining Complex produce fuel.
The airlift came after Iran sent more than a dozen flights to Venezuela last year to help restart Cardon refinery and alleviate acute gasoline shortages in the OPEC nation.