May 26, 2020 | 6:12 pm
The third ship in an Iranian oil fleet, which transports fuel to Venezuela, arrived on Tuesday in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, while the two previous shipments were preparing to unload, according to data from Refinitiv Eikon.
Iran supplies about 1.53 million barrels of fuel to Venezuela, according to both governments, as well as sources and estimates from TankerTrackers.com based on the draft levels of the ships.
The third Iranian-flagged Petunia vessel crossed the Caribbean Sea on Monday morning, after crossing the Atlantic Ocean, following the route outlined in recent days by the Fortune and Forest ships.
The Fortune ship was received on Monday at PDVSA’s El Palito refinery by Venezuela’s Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami, who thanked Iran for its support during the crisis, which has forced Venezuelans to wait in long lines to get gasoline.
The Iranian supply has been criticized by the United States, because both OPEC member countries are under sanctions.
A US official said in early May that President Donald Trump’s administration was considering responses to the shipment, prompting the Iranian government to warn Washington against any military action.
The boats do not appear to have encountered any interference during their journey.
The second ship in the flotilla, Forest, docked on Tuesday in the port that serves the second largest refinery, Cardón, on the country’s west coast, according to two sources and Eikon data showing its trajectory.
While receiving imported gasoline and components for fuel production, PDVSA is working to recover some of the domestic refining capacity that it has lost in recent years due to mismanagement, lack of sufficient qualified personnel, and maintenance delays due to limitations created by United States sanctions.
The Venezuelan oil company, whose refining capacity reaches 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd), increased crude processing for fuel production to about 215,000 bpd in May from 110,000 bpd in March, according to sources and internal data from the company.
But its crude oil production and exports were hit in May, due to a lack of buyers amid sanctions, which pushed up inventories.