CARACAS/DUBAI: The first of five Iranian tankers carrying fuel for gasoline-starved Venezuela approached the South American country's waters on Saturday (May 23) afternoon, despite a US official's warning that Washington was considering a response to the shipment.
As of 4:51pm local time (2051 GMT), the tanker – named Fortune – was passing north of the neighboring dual-island Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.
Venezuelan state television reported that the vessel would arrive in the country's waters at 7pm local time (2300 GMT), and showed images of a navy ship and aircraft preparing to meet it.
The nation's defense minister had pledged that the military would escort the tankers once they reached Venezuela's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) due to what authorities described as threats from the United States.
"We welcome the boats from the Islamic Republic of Iran, which will soon arrive at our fatherland's ports," Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela's economy vice president and recently named oil minister, wrote on Twitter.
The tanker flotilla is carrying a total of 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and alkylate to Venezuela, according to both governments, sources and calculations by TankerTrackers.com.
The shipments, desperately needed as gasoline is increasingly scarce in Venezuela, have caused a diplomatic standoff between the United States and Iran and Venezuela as both countries are under U.S. sanctions.
Washington is considering measures in response, according to a senior U.S. official, who did not elaborate on any options.
The United States recently beefed up its naval presence in tRead More – Source