Tankers carrying Venezuelan oil stuck at sea

Tankers carrying nearly two months’ worth of Venezuelan oil output are stuck at sea, reports Reuters.

Global refiners have been refusing to take the crude for fear of falling foul of US sanctions, the report claimed, citing unnamed industry sources, PDVSA documents and shipping data.

The Trump administration has blacklisted ships and merchants this month for their role in trading and transporting state-run PDVSA’s oil and threatened to add more to its list of sanctioned entities.

At least 16 tankers carrying 18.1m barrels of Venezuelan oil were stuck at sea, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, equal to almost two months of output at Venezuela’s current production rate. Some of the vessels have been at sea for more than six months, and have sailed to several ports, but failed to unload.

Each tanker is incurring hefty demurrage charges for every day’s delay in unloading. The cost for a vessel transporting Venezuelan oil is at least $30,000 per day, said Reuters, citing an unnamed shipping source.

Panama-flagged MT Kelly was said to be one of the vessels stuck at sea. It sailed for Turkey in April with no charterer disclosed by PDVSA at its monthly loading schedule. The vessel entered the Mediterranean, but then turned around, sailed back through the Strait of Gibraltar and continues south along the coast of Africa, having reached the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Reuters reported. According to Marine Traffic, its last registered port of call was Dubai, in January.

Most of the other tankers set sail for Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia or Togo, where they typically transfer their oil to other vessels at sea, sometimes disguising their origin before they are shipped to a refiner, said Reuters. The vessels have not discharged, but some have switched off their AIS, according to the Eikon data.

Six of the vessels anchored off Malaysia are managed by Greece-based Eurotankers Inc and have been waiting for up to four months to discharge, according to the Eikon data.

Mexico’s Libre Abordo, which along with related firm Schlager Business Group chartered three of the stranded cargoes according to the PDVSA documents. Those companies have been blacklisted by the US Treasury Department, along with their owners for trading Venezuelan oil through a pact described by the firms as an oil-for-food agreement.

Amsterdam-based GPB Global Resources, which chartered two other cargoes, said that the company and its subsidiaries were “conducting business in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations, including US sanctions.”

Hong-Kong based Richeart International was in charge of another four shipments, according to the report.