Houston/Maracay, Venezuela, (The Times Groupe)- Iranian-made oil tanker Aframax is scheduled to depart from the Middle Eastern country next month carrying fuel components for gasoline-hungry Venezuela, three sources told Reuters.
It is the latest sign of the growing energy collaboration between the two nations under U.S. sanctions. The South American country desperately needs fuel and diluents since its refining network is in poor condition, so Iran swaps crude for them.
Nicolas Maduro, who is not recognized by the U.S. government as the country’s leader, has benefited from the deals by helping revive Venezuela’s economy after years of recession and hyperinflation.
Aframax tanker Yoraco is the second vessel built by SADRA shipyard for Venezuela, and two more are on order. Mahduro, who visited Tehran last week as part of a tour spanning the Middle East and Asia, attended Yoraco’s launch.
One of the sources said that after tests of the 60 million euro Yoraco’s seaworthiness have been completed, PDVSA’s maritime arm will send a crew to the Iranian port city of Bushehr to assume command.
Another source said PDVSA executives are preparing a chartering contract for a shipment of Iranian fuel components that will depart in about 35 days.
PDVSA and SADRA did not respond to requests for comment.
This week, data from Refinitiv Eikon monitoring showed the tanker floating near Bushehr, on the Persian Gulf, with its transponder activated.
In 2014, SADRA built another tanker for Venezuela called Sorocaima. After U.S. sanctions on Iran prevented it from obtaining insurance and classification, it took three years before it could navigate commercially.
According to Refinitiv data, the vessel, now called Colon, is in Venezuelan waters after the tanker was detained by authorities in 2019.
Iranian and Venezuelan officials announced last week that SADRA will build two more tankers for Venezuela through 2024 after announcing a 20-year cooperation plan in the fields of oil, refinery, petrochemicals, defense, agriculture, tourism and culture.
Venezuela ordered more than 40 tankers from China to Argentina under late President Hugo Chavez to replace PDVSA’s aging fleet. However, only a few were delivered, and some were lost due to unpaid bills.