JEDDAH: The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) on Sunday clarified that its giant oil tanker “ABQAIQ” was not breaching the US sanctions on Venezuela.
The Saudi oil tanker has set sail free of cargo from the Red Sea. Its destination is Venezuela’s Port of Jose to load a shipment agreed on Jan. 9, 2019, prior to the imposition of sanctions on Caracas, Bahri said in a statement.
The US imposed sanctions on Venezuela on Jan. 28, 2019.
It added that the giant tanker is expected to complete its journey and deliver the shipment to one of its permanent customers in India — before the end of the grace period set by the US sanctions.
Until the sanctions were imposed, Venezuela’s oil was loaded and shipped on Bahri oil tankers to Indian and Chinese ports.
Oil production in Venezuela has slumped in recent months from more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) to around 1.4 million bpd.
The Latin American nation sits on the world’s largest oil reserves of more than 300 billion barrels, most of it heavy crude.
And Caracas, whose coffers depend on its crude reserves, could struggle to find other buyers for the oil it is able to extract.
The US is leading the way with sanctions. Washington had already implemented some sanctions against President Nicolas Maduro and his top aides, but last month it instituted more against Venezuela itself, particularly its oil industry.
Although crude output by Venezuela has slumped in recent years, its heavy oil is sought after by US refineries who mix it with lighter crudes to make petrol.