Venezuela will contract Iranian shipyard to build two oil tankers

Long-running sanctions by the USA and the EU on Iran and Venezuela has led to both countries facing difficulties in maintaining international trade in oil, because the international finance and insurance markets cannot afford to be seen to be dealing with companies that facilitate such exports. Iran has its own shipping companies and infrastructure, but Venezuela does not.

What might be seen as an inevitable effect of the US sanctions has come to pass, with Venezuela contracting with an Iranian shipyard to build two oil tankers.

Since last year Venezuela’s state-run energy firm PDVSA has further intensified its efforts to buy and lease oil tankers to rebuild its own fleet.

Two new Aframax tankers, to be named India Urquia and India Mara, will cost $33.75m each, according to an internal PDVSA document detailing the proposed agreement that was seen by Reuters.

The vessels will be built by Iran Marine Industrial Company (SADRA) at its Bushehr shipyard, which built two previous vessels for PDVSA (Aframaxes Arita (IMO 9503574) and Anita, that can each carry 500,000-800,000 barrels of oil).

The agreement will come after Venezuela settled an outstanding debt to Iran with fuel, according to the document, one of the reasons why the contract had not worked as originally planned.

Both the Arita and the Anita faced long delays to begin navigating amid the unpaid debts and PDVSA maritime arm’s struggles to secure insurance and seaworthy classifications.

The Arita – which is now called the Colon – first set sail in 2017. However, it was later arrested by a vessel operator over unpaid bills. It was returned to PDVSA in 2019 and for the most part has remained in Venezuelan waters ever since. The Anita was reported to have departed Iran in late December, carrying an Iranian condensate cargo for PDVSA.

A separate vessel chartered by Iran’s state firm Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO), the supertanker Wen Yao, also is on its way to Venezuela carrying Iranian condensate as part of an oil swap with PDVSA, monitoring firm said.

By the end of the contract, first announced in 2006, PDVSA will have paid Iran about €157m for the four vessels, according to the proposal drafted in the document, although not much of this appears to have been in cash.

2011-built, possibly Togo-flagged, 63,052 gt Colon is listed as owned by Lowest Point Inc care of manager Mantenishop XXI SL of Oviedo (Asturia) Spain, and was last recorded as underway off the Venezuelan coast, having left Amuay on February 14th.