Rumours that at least one vessel had been carrying fuel from Iran to Venezuela in a vessel that had its AIS tracker turned off appear to be confirmed earlier this week when an Iranian VLCC at Venezuela’s José petroleum terminal carrying 2m barrels of condensate. The vessel’s original name and IMO number appear to have been painted over. The vessel has begun broadcasting the name Honey over AIS.
Lightweight condensate (drip gas) enables the production, transport and sale of PDVSA’s extra-heavy crude oil. Without blending with lighter grades, Venezuela’s Orinoco bituminous oil has a tarlike consistency, making it difficult to handle or refine. US sanctions on PDVSA have left Venezuela without ready access to diluents, production equipment, spare parts or tanker capacity.
Bloomberg identified the condensate cargo as Venezuela’s first non-refined diluent import since April 2019.