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The VLCC supertanker Honey is unloading
Iranian condensate at PDVSA terminal

AFP

Iranian VLCC supertanker carrying 2 million barrels of gas condensate suddenly pops up at the José Terminal, Venezuela -Tankers Trackers.

Venezuela Defies Sanction Tripwires and Imports Iranian Oil

- Ship is discharging Iranian condensate at PDVSA terminal
- Venezuela's oil production is at lowest levels since 1910s

By Lucia Kassai and Fabiola Zerpa/Bloomberg

HOUSTON/CARACAS
Petroleumworld 09 14 2020

An oil tanker is discharging Iranian condensate for Venezuela as both countries continue to avoid U.S. sanction tripwires.

The ship, identified as Honey, turned off its satellite signal and started unloading about 2 million barrels of South Pars condensate at Venezuela's controlled port of Jose on Saturday, according to a report and a person with knowledge of the situation.

The cargo will most likely be used by the state oil company PDVSA to blend with Venezuela's tar-like oil and help to prop up oil production in the Orinoco oil belt.

OPEC founding member Venezuela, owner of the world's largest oil reserves, has been struggling to stave off a fall in production after U.S. sanctions cut access to equipment and to buyers for its oil. Output slumped to 339,000 barrels a day in July, the lowest levels seen since the 1910s, according to OPEC and government data compiled by Bloomberg.

This is the first time Venezuela has imported crude from Iran, although it's imported gasoline. It's also the country's first oil import since April 2019 , when it got a parcel of Nigerian oil Agbami to mix with its heavy oil and produce flagship Merey 16, the country's top exported blend.

Imports are used to offset Venezuela's declining production of light oil, used to make Merey, or to act as a diluent and blend with viscous types of crude to make them lighter and more marketable.

Venezuela's information ministry, Petroleos de Venezuela SA and Iran's foreign ministry didn't immediately return calls and email seeking comment.

The U.S. has been ratcheting up sanctions, leaving little room for companies to work with the regime of President Nicolas Maduro.

Last month, the U.S. seized four tankers carrying Iranian gasoline bound for Venezuela in an unprecedented move by the Trump administration. The tankers were transporting 1.116 million barrels of petroleum, confiscated after help from “foreign partners,” the Justice Department said at the time.

Also read: Trump Administration Weighs Tighter Venezuelan Oil Sanctions

After Russian companies Rosneft Trading SA , TNK Trading SA and Mexican Libre Abordo SA de CV cut ties with the regime, Caracas has expanded business with Iran.

So far this year Tehran has supplied 1.5 million barrels of gasoline to PDVSA and food for the first Iranian supermarket in the South American nation.

A shortage of gasoline is forcing Venezuelans to queue for hours and even days, while Caracas is hit by rationing. The situation is as bad as before the help from Iran, and the prospect of worsening fuel shortages and increased social unrest in the country has PDVSA grappling to revive a refining network crippled by years of mismanagement.

— With assistance by Arsalan Shahla

By Lucia Kassai and Fabiola Zerpa from Bloomberg

bloomberg.com
09 13 2020

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