The US is seizing some and missing some but there is enough not reaching Venezuela that it has to be hurting. Good, they need to overthrow Maduro.
Recall that in July the US seized 1.1 million barrels of Iranian fuel aboard four privately owned tankers that had been bound for Venezuela. This after a federal court deemed the move was lawful in accord with sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
That confiscated gasoline was previously bound for Houston, according to top US administration official statements; however, it was recently rerouted, with at least half of it discharged in New York on Thursday.
Vessel tracking data shows that the Singapore-flagged Maersk Progress unloaded its cargo there, estimated at 557,000 barrels of gasoline, according to Reuters.
“The Maersk Progress was due to arrive in Houston last month, but changed its route. Euroforce, a second tanker carrying some of the seized cargo, has been off the coast of Texas since Sept. 9,” Reuters writes.
Meanwhile the private owners of four Iranian fuel cargoes are attempting to sue and get the seizure ruling overturned in US District Court, basing their argument primarily on claims that the customers are in Peru and Colombia, and not blacklisted Maduro’s Venezuela.
Meanwhile, officials in Tehran recently mocked the whole episode, claiming the seized fuel was not Iran’s at all, stating that it had already been sold to international customers.
Even as the alleged Iranian fuel was being discharged in New York, Venezuela hailed a separate “victory” this past week :
- Two Iranian fuel tankers have reportedly reached Venezuela with a third ship set to dock soon. Their arrival constitutes a success for the two nations sanctioned by the United States following an August seizure of such fuel.
- The Iran-flagged ship Forest reached a Venezuelan port Tuesday. A second Iranian ship, the Fortune, entered Venezuelan waters Wednesday. The Forest brought 275,000 barrels of gasoline, The Associated Press reported.
- A third Iranian ship, the Faxon, is expected to arrive this weekend; the three are collectively carrying around 815,000 barrels of fuel in total, the AP said.
More such maneuvering and controversy regarding cargo on the high seas is expected in the coming months, given Iran and Venezuela’s deepening trade and military ties.
Last summer multiple Iranian fuel ships were escorted safely to Venezuelan ports by Maduro’s armed forces, something which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has vowed to stop.