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Venezuela using Trinidad to hide oil exports: report

By Trinidad Guardian

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(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — There are re­ports of T&T ports be­ing used by Venezuela’s state oil com­pa­ny, Petróleos de Venezuela, SA (PDVSA), to avoid US sanc­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port on the web­site Lloyd’s List Mar­itime In­tel­li­gence, ships ap­pear to be col­lect­ing oil car­go in Venezuela be­fore stop­ping off in T&T and then set­ting off again, rais­ing sus­pi­cions that car­goes are be­ing hid­den. It said PDVSA is sus­pect­ed of us­ing co-loads and “false berthings” to dis­guise car­go origins.

Since March 21, three tankers be­long­ing to PDVSA have loaded oil car­goes in Venezuela then di­vert­ed to ar­eas close to T&T for sev­er­al hours. Ves­sel-track­ing da­ta showed that af­ter spend­ing a short time in T&T wa­ters, the tankers left for their fi­nal long-haul des­ti­na­tions.

This was like­ly an at­tempt to get new bills of lad­ing stat­ing T&T, not Venezuela as the points of ori­gin for the car­goes of fu­el oil.

The tankers have been iden­ti­fied as the Min­doro, Amore Mio and Serengeti. Min­doro is owned by TMS Tankers, while Serengeti is owned by a Greece-based ship­ping com­pa­ny, Dy­na­com. The own­er of Amore Mio could not be de­ter­mined.“There is no sug­ges­tion that any of the ship­ments were in breach of US sanc­tions,” Mar­itime In­tel­li­gence added.

This is the sec­ond al­leged PDVSA tac­tic to hide the des­ti­na­tion and ori­gin of pe­tro­le­um and crude exports. In late Jan­u­ary, af­ter the im­po­si­tion of the US sanc­tions, two tankers that loaded in Venezuela were in­volved in ship-to-ship trans­fers off Gibral­tar.

Rolling pow­er black­outs that dis­rupt­ed port load­ings on top of US sanc­tions have shrunk crude ex­ports from Venezuela to 17-year lows. In March, just un­der 1 mil­lion bar­rels per day was loaded on 33 tankers, ac­cord­ing to Lloyd’s List In­tel­li­gence—the sec­ond-low­est vol­ume since 2006.

The US sanc­tions cur­rent­ly re­strict the sales of crude and pe­tro­le­um prod­ucts from PDVSA to the US unless rev­enues are placed in es­crow, cut­ting off the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Nicolás Maduro from its biggest ex­port earn­er. Oil is re­spon­si­ble for more than 90 per cent of Venezuela’s rev­enues.

The sanc­tions are aimed at block­ing US$7 bil­lion in PDVSA’s as­sets and more than $11 bil­lion in ex­port pro­ceeds over the next year.

On April 12, the US Of­fice of For­eign As­sets Con­trol ex­pand­ed the sanc­tions to in­clude com­pa­nies and ves­sels trans­port­ing crude to Cu­ba. Shipown­ers out­side the US have been warned that they could be affect­ed.

“While there are no spe­cif­ic pro­hi­bi­tions aimed at non-US per­sons trans­act­ing busi­ness with PDVSA, there is the po­ten­tial that non-US per­sons could nev­er­the­less be sub­ject to sanc­tions ei­ther for operating in the Venezue­lan oil sec­tor, or for pro­vid­ing ma­te­r­i­al as­sis­tance to, or sup­port for, PDVSA,” the re­port stat­ed.

Two of the car­goes that were di­vert­ed through T&T are cur­rent­ly sail­ing around the Cape of Good Hope and sig­nalling Sin­ga­pore, a typ­i­cal des­ti­na­tion for fu­el oil car­goes.

Serengeti is mak­ing a transat­lantic cross­ing and sig­nalling its next port as Gibral­tar.

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