Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro welcomed arrival of the second Iranian oil tanker. The Forest has successfully docked at the Paraguana refinery complex, DPA reported on Wednesday.
Despite escalating tensions between Washington and the two U.S.-sanctioned countries, Iran and Venezuela, the second Iranian tanker carrying gasoline and oil derivatives arrived May 26 at Venezuela’s oil refinery.
In his televised speech, President Maduro said that Venezuela and Iran want peace and have the right to freely trade in the world’s seas and exchange products.
On Wednesday, Venezuelan Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami confirmed on Twitter that Iranian tanker has docked at the Paraguana refinery complex in north-west Falcon state. The official also shared photos of the Forest at the dock.
The Venezuelan Paraguana refinery remains one of the largest in the world. It can process 950,000 barrels of fuel per day, but its production has plummeted alongside the country’s crude supply.
Data from the website Marine Traffic confirmed the location of the ship, which entered Venezuelan waters on May 25.
US sanctions have aggravated Venezuela’s economic crisis
Unilateral U.S. sanctions have targeted Iran and Venezuela’s oil industry and other sectors, depriving Tehran of much-needed cash and adding pressure on Venezuela’s badly managed economy.
The first tanker, Fortune, had anchored 24 hours earlier at El Palito refinery on Venezuela’s northwest coast, which is able to process 140,000 barrels a day.
A third tanker, Petunia, has already entered Venezuelan waters May 26, military officials confirmed, while two other tankers, Faxon and Clavel, are expected in the next two days.
The five ships carry a total of 1.5 million barrels of gasoline, according to media.
President Nicolas Maduro has praised “solidarity and cooperation” between Venezuela and Iran, accusing the US of imposing its will by force.
The tensions over the tankers comes after the U.S. Navy in April accused Iran of harassing its ships in the Persian Gulf, the latest in a series of escalations between the two countries in the region since Washington in 2018 withdrew from a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
The United States also recently deployed ships, including Navy destroyers and other combat ships, to patrol the Caribbean on what US officials call a drug interdiction mission. Meanwhile, President Maduro views the US mission as a threat.