The ship on Saturday started discharging about 2 million barrels of South Pars condensate which the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA is thought to blend with Venezuela’s tar-like crude in order to prop up production in the Orinoco oil belt, the financial news provider said.
Iran has already shipped several cargoes of gasoline to Venezuela, but this is the first condensate trade between the two countries.
Most importantly, the shipment is apparently the first to reach Venezuela since Iran supplied 1.5 million barrels of gasoline and diesel fuel to the country in May and June despite US threats to stop them.
Last month, the US government went on a full-throttle propaganda campaign, claiming that it had seized 1.116 million barrels of Iranian fuel because it was bound for Venezuela.
Iran, however, put down its foot to assert that neither the ships were Iranian nor their owners or their cargo had any connection to the Islamic Republic.
When the New York Times first reported the seizure of the four cargoes in August, the newspaper headlined it as a “diplomatic doubleheader” which blocked Iran and Venezuela from evading American economic sanctions.
Iranian officials brushed aside the claim, with Iran’s Ambassador to Venezuela Hojjat Soltani saying the report was an “act of psychological warfare perpetrated by the US propaganda machine” trying to compensate for the Trump administration’s “humiliation and defeat by Iran using false propaganda.”
“The United States is seeking to contrive a victory for itself. Neither did the ships nor the cargo belong to Iran,” Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh told reporters in Tehran.
A legal challenge put up by the owners of the cargoes in the US last week appeared to confirm Iran’s contention.
According to a filing with the US District Court for the District of Columbia last Tuesday, “at the time they were seized, the Defendant Properties were destined for Trinidad for sale to customers in Peru and Colombia.”
United Arab Emirates-based Mobin International Limited said it was the owner of the cargo aboard the Bella and Bering tankers, UK-registered Oman Fuel said it owned the cargo aboard the Pandi and Luna tankers, and Oman-registered Sohar Fuel said it part-owned the cargo aboard the Luna.
The companies said they had sold the cargoes onwards to UAE-based Citi Energy FZC, but payment was due upon delivery, which was disrupted by the seizure, Reuters reported.
The legal challenge and the report of Iranian condensate cargo having reached Venezuela deal another blow to Washington’s efforts to block trade between Iran and Venezuela – both subject to the most aggressive American sanctions.
In June, Iran sent a cargo of food to Venezuela to supply the South American nation’s first Iranian supermarket.
Covering an area of 20,000 square meters, the store is selling more than 2,500 Iranian items including foodstuff, clothing, detergents, plastic, disposable products, nuts, and even tractors.
The store ushered in a new era of cooperation between Caracas and Tehran, hailed by political observers as a step in breaking the paradigm of US power to subjugate sovereign countries.