File Photo: Igor Grochev / Shutterstock
By Marianna Parraga Sept 10 (Reuters) – An Iranian-flagged tanker transporting fuel is sailing round Africa’s Cape of Good Hope en route to the Atlantic Ocean, according to Refinitiv Eikon’s vessel tracking data.
The medium-size vessel Forest, carrying about 300,000 barrels of fuel loaded at Iran’s Bandar Abbas terminal, is bound for Venezuela, according to sources with knowledge of the shipment.
Gasoline scarcity in Venezuela has worsened again in recent days due to insufficient domestic production, leaving long lines of drivers waiting in front of stations and increasing the need for imported fuel.
Iran sent a first flotilla of five fuel tankers to Venezuela between May and June to help its political ally, which is also under U.S. sanctions. The vessels arrived in Venezuelan state-run PDVSA’s ports without interferences.
But a second group of four Liberia-flagged tankers owned by a Greek shipping group did not arrive at the South American nation in July as the fuel was seized by Washington under a court order. The fuel is expected to be auctioned as part of the court action in the United States.
Two other Iranian tankers of the same size that also loaded fuel in August, the Faxon and Fortune, have kept their transponders switched off since they set sail, the data showed, making it difficult for most tracking systems to detect their location.
Those two vessels are also bound for Venezuela, according to the sources, but the route they took is yet unknown.
Two separate sources said earlier this week that the three tankers communicated with the Suez Canal in early September to sail through the waterway, but they did not pass on the scheduled date. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Andrea Ricci)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020.
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