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Fourth Iranian fuel tanker enters Venezuelan waters

oil tanker

A fourth fuel tanker from Iran entered Venezuelan waters late on Wednesday as the first three prepared to discharge at the gasoline-starved South American country’s ports, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. 

Iran is providing up to 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and refining components to help Venezuela ease an acute shortage, the result of the near-complete breakdown in its refining network and U.S. sanctions on its oil industry.

Washington has criticized the arrangement, as both OPEC nations are sanctioned. 

The Eikon data showed that the Faxon, the fourth in the five-tanker Iranian flotilla, was passing north of eastern Venezuela’s Sucre state as of 11:49 p.m. local time (0349 GMT) Wednesday night. It has not transmitted its location since then. 

The Faxon had followed a similar path as the first three tankers, which began arriving last weekend. The Fortune was docked at a port at the El Palito refinery in central Venezuela, and the Petunia was anchored nearby. The Forest was docked at a port at the western Cardon refinery. 

The tankers’ unimpeded arrival in Venezuelan waters came despite warnings by U.S. officials that Washington was considering a response to the fuel shipment, prompting a complaint from Iran to the United Nations. A fifth tanker, the Clavel, was still crossing the Atlantic Ocean toward the Caribbean. 

Venezuela’s socialist government has celebrated the arrival as a sign of solidarity from a fellow U.S. ideological foe. But officials have also pledged to reform the gasoline distribution system, with President Nicolas Maduro stating citizens would have to start paying for fuel after decades of heavy subsidies.