Authorities celebrate docking of tanker with Iran gasolene
Venezuelan authorities celebrated Monday as the first of five Iranian tankers loaded with gasolene docked in the South American country, delivering badly needed fuel to the crisis-stricken nation that sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves.
The gasolene shipments are arriving in defiance of stiff sanctions by the Trump administration against both nations and they mark a new era in the burgeoning relationship between Venezuela and Iran, which is expanding its footprint in the Western Hemisphere.
“We keep moving forward and winning,” Venezuela’s Minister of Energy Tareck El Aissami tweeted.
State TV played images of the ship pulling through Caribbean waters as Venezuelan fighter jets flew overhead. Aissami posted photographs on his Twitter account of the sun rising over the tanker docked at El Palito refinery.
Washington says both Iran and Venezuela are ruled by repressive regimes. It recently offered a $15 million reward for Maduro’s arrest on drug smuggling charges in a “maximum pressure” campaign against the socialist leader.
Washington recognises opposition politician Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader in a coalition of nearly 60 nations, which consider Maduro’s election a fraud because his most popular rivals were banned from running.
FIRST SHIP TO ARRIVE
The first Iranian ship to arrive, the Fortune, is trailed by four other tankers expected to arrive in the next few days. The shipments, however, only carry enough fuel for two or three weeks, analysts say.
Russ Dallen, head of the Miami-based investment firm Caracas Capital Markets, said the Iranian shipments were anything but a victory for Venezuelans. The first tanker carries an estimated 11 million gallons of gasolene to a nation with roughly five million cars, he said.
“Venezuela, the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, is now reduced to importing millions of gallons of gasolene from another failed pariah state halfway around the world,” Dallen said.
Venezuela also has one of the world’s largest refineries, which has fallen to disrepair. The country produces a fraction of oil it did when Maduro’s predecessor, the late Hugo Chávez, rose to power two decades ago and launched Venezuela’s socialist revolution.