Iranian supertanker leaving Venezuela to transport heavy oil

An oil tanker is moored while oil is pumped from it at the marine terminal of the Jose Antonio Anzoategui industrial complex of PDVSA in Anzoategui state, April 15, 2015. REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins / File Photo

HOUSTON / CARACAS, October 16 (Reuters) – An Iranian-flagged supertanker was set to leave Venezuelan waters on Saturday to transport 2 million barrels of heavy crude supplied by state-owned oil company PDVSA (PDVSA.UL), documents show consulted by Reuters and vessel tracking services.

The shipment is part of an agreement between PDVSA and its counterpart National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) which exchanges Iranian condensate for Merey crude from Venezuela. The trade is aimed at easing a severe shortage of diluents that has slashed Venezuela’s oil production and exports, Reuters reported last month. Read more

Dino I, a very large crude carrier (VLCC) owned and operated by NIOC’s National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), on Friday completed loading Venezuelan oil at PDVSA’s port of Jose, according to the documents, a source and a monitoring service.

Bilateral oil trade could violate US sanctions against the two countries, the US Treasury Department told Reuters last month, citing government orders that set out the punitive measures.

The ship arrived in Venezuela in September with its transponder turned off while carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian condensate. Light oil has fueled PDVSA’s Petrolera Sinovensa, Petropiar and Petrocedeno projects in the country’s Orinoco belt. Read more

A second shipment of condensate of a similar size is expected to be delivered to Venezuela in the coming weeks as part of the exchange routine, which will be in effect for six months in its first phase.

Venezuela’s petroleum ministry, PDVSA and NIOC did not respond to requests for comment.

PDVSA kicked off the exchange last month by sending 1.9 million barrels of heavy Merey crude onto the Iranian-flagged Supertanker Felicity.

The exchange provides the OPEC country with a stable supply of blending materials needed to convert its extra-heavy oil into exportable qualities. The pact also delivers heavy oil to Iran for blending, refining or marketing to Asian customers.

Iran and Venezuela have stepped up their cooperation over the past year, even under the watchful eye of the United States, which in recent years has reimposed sanctions against Iranian state entities, including the NIOC, and in 2019 have blacklisted PDVSA.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas; Editing by Gary McWilliams and Andrea Ricci

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