A flotilla of five tankers carrying Iranian fuel for gasoline-starved Venezuela is approaching the Caribbean, with the first vessel expected to reach the South American country's waters on Sunday, according to Refinitiv Eikon tracking data.
Iran is supplying about 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and alkylate to Venezuela, according to both governments, sources and calculations made by TankerTrackers.com based on the vessels' draft levels.
The shipments have caused a diplomatic standoff between Iran and Venezuela and the United States as both nations are under US sanctions. Washington is considering measures in response, according to a senior US official, who did not elaborate on any options being weighed.
A Pentagon spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, said on Thursday he was not aware of any operations related to the Iranian cargoes. "We have continued to say that Iran and Venezuela - both two outliers in the international order - [are] clearly violating international sanctions on both nations with this transaction," he told reporters.
Venezuela's defense minister said its military will escort the Iranian tankers once they reach the nation's exclusive economic zone.
Venezuela was consuming 170,000 bpd of gasoline before coronavirus-related lockdown measures. Fuel sales at stations declined to about 40,000 bpd due to rationing, according to analysts.
US West Texas Intermediate crude fell 67 cents on Friday to settle at $33.25 a barrel, paring about half earlier losses of more than five percent. Global benchmark Brent settled at $35.13, down 93 cents on the day.