Iran says it is ready to continue fuel shipments to Venezuela

Clay Curtis
June 1, 2020

Despite Washington's objection to the shipment, the tankers did not encounter any immediate signs of United States military interference, but Venezuelan authorities did describe "threats" from the USA over the shipments.

Seeking to deter further shipments of Iranian fuel to Venezuela, Washington is monitoring the original supply.

These will include 200 stations that will sell premium fuel at the equivalent of 50 USA cents a litre, and gasoline will be limited to 120 litres (30 gallons) per month for each vehicle, according to Maduro.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi says Tehran will continue to export fuel to Venezuela if the South American country requests more supplies.

Under the changes, which will come into force on June 1, drivers will be allowed up to 120 litres of gasoline a month and up to 60 litres for motorbikes at a subsidised price of 5,000 bolivars (RM0.11) per litre.

Last week, US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the Iranian fuel shipments were "a sad reminder of Maduro's hopeless mismanagement".

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With the number of infections continuing to rise globally, "we can not tear down the dike in the middle of a storm", he said. German International Minister Heiko Maas referred to as Trump's determination the "improper sign on the improper time".

"Venezuela and Iran both want peace, and we have the right to trade freely", President Nicolas Maduro said in a televised address last week.

Diesel, which is fundamental for industries and electricity power plants, will still be subsidized "100%", Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami said in the event with Maduro.

Iran has sent five tankers of fuel to Venezuela, once South America's top oil producer, which is suffering from a gasoline shortage amid a ravaging economic crisis.

The South American country, which used to boast the world's largest oil reserves, is in desperate need of petrol and other refined fuel products due to hyperinflation, U.S. sanctions, a severe fuel shortage, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Venezuela's refineries, which can produce more than 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of fuel, have worked at less than 20% of their capacity in 2020 mainly due to power outages and lack of spare parts, caused by intense United States sanctions.

Of 1,800 stations in Venezuela, about 240 have remained working since Maduro announced coronavirus-related lockdown measures in March, which included restrictions on fuel sales due to very low inventories.

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