Italian Tanker Owner ‘Shocked and Concerned’ By U.S. Sanctions Placed Against It

silver point tanker
MT Silver Point. Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Hanno

Italy-based tanker company PB Tankers is vowing to fight sanctions placed against it by the U.S. Treasury department over its alleged involvement in the Venezuelan oil sector.

PB Tankers S.p.a. was one of four shipping companies named last week by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as having transported oil from Venezuela in violation an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in November prohibiting U.S. citizens and businesses from conducting business that benefits the Maduro regime. Those sanctioned have their financial interests in the United States blocked. 

The Treasury Department specifically named six of PB Tankers’ tankers as having transported oil on from Venezuela, including one tanker that delivered oil products from Venezuela to Cuba during March 2019.

In a strongly worded statement posted to its website, however, PB Tankers said it was “shocked” to learn of the sanctions and denied any activities that may have violation the sanctions.

“PB Tankers is shocked and concerned by the action taken by OFAC in adding the company and a number of the company’s vessels to the current SDN (Specially Designated Nationals) list in relation to trade with Venezuela. This has been done without any notification or contact with the Company,” PB Tankers said. “As a consequence, we will be taking immediate steps to ensure that both are delisted as a matter of urgency.”

The statement from PB Tankers seemed to indicated that its involvement may be related to a previous contract prior to Venezuelan sanctions being put in place.

“PB Tankers, an Italian shipping company with more than 100 years of service to the international community, has been taking regular advice from both its UK and US lawyers and has been taking all possible steps to ensure compliance with current US sanctions including, but not limited to, restriction of trade under a single time charter contract which predates the current sanctions regime. PB Tankers does not have any ships in Venezuela, nor will be trading into or out of Venezuela

It is therefore extremely disappointing that the US/OFAC have decided to take such action against an Owner who has throughout done everything possible to comply.

PB Tankers will continue to meet its obligations as a matter of international law,” PB Tankers’ statement concluded.

In January, the Trump Administration imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA, the toughest U.S. financial measure to date against Venezuelan President Maduro. The sanctions were the first targeting Venezuela’s oil sector, the largest source of revenue for the OPEC nation. 

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