London - Iran could send two to three cargoes a month in regular gasoline sales to ally Venezuela, sources say, helping offload domestic oversupply but risking retaliation from U.S. President Donald Trump who has sanctions on both nations.
Iran has since April sent five tankers totalling about 1.5 million barrels to the leftist government of fuel-starved Venezuela, though the shipments have done little to alleviate hours-long lines at gas stations.
The Trump administration, which is seeking both to block Iran’s energy trade and bring down Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, has threatened reprisals and warned ports, shipping companies and insurers against facilitating the tankers.
But Tehran plans to keep up the shipments, according to five trading and industry sources close to the Oil Ministry.
Two of the sources said Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards military unit, which answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were determining policy on Venezuela.
“This is a long-term strategic decision made by the state to expand influence,” said one Iranian trader familiar with the policy, likening it to Iran’s cargoes for Syria.
Requests for comment from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Oil Ministry, and from Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA, Oil Ministry and Information Ministry, were not answered.
A State Department spokesman said the United States would not tolerate “meddling” or sanction-breaking to support Venezuela, but did not specify what actions could be taken.