Dubai/Valencia - The first of five Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela has moored at a port serving the South American country’s El Palito refinery, the nation’s oil minister said Monday, and Refinitiv Eikon data showed a second vessel had entered its waters.Iran is providing Venezuela with 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and refining components in a move criticized by U.S. authorities as both countries are under U.S. sanctions, according to the governments, sources and calculations by TankerTrackers.com.
Refinitiv Eikon data showed that the tanker Fortune docked at one of El Palito’s berths around 1 a.m. local time.
A second vessel, the Forest, entered Venezuelan waters and was being escorted by the country’s military on Monday morning, according to the Eikon data and Venezuela’s navy. A third tanker, the Petunia, was approaching the Caribbean, according to the data.
Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s economy vice president and recently named oil minister, posted photos on Twitter of the Fortune arriving.
“We continue advancing and overcoming,” El Aissami wrote.
A senior Trump administration official said earlier this month that Washington was considering a response to the shipments. A Pentagon spokesman said last week he was not aware of any military move planned. The first two vessels did not appear to face interference.
Neither the White House nor the U.S. State Department immediately responded to requests for comment on Monday, an American holiday.
Venezuela is suffering acute gasoline shortages due to the near-collapse of its 1.3 million barrel-per-day refining network after years of underinvestment and mismanagement, as well as U.S. sanctions aimed at ousting socialist President Nicolas Maduro.