An Iranian fuel tanker has reportedly reached Venezuela and is loading the South American country’s oil for sale abroad, despite continued US efforts to stop such transfers.
The Iran-flagged vessel Honey is currently docked in Venezuela, the financial news outlet Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. It is loading Venezuelan crude oil to be sold in Asia. Last week, the ship, which also goes by the name Horse, unloaded Iranian fuel in Venezuela.
The ship did not use its satellite signal to avoid being detected by the United States, according to Bloomberg. The ship tracking website Marine Traffic reported that the Iranian ship Horse was confirmed as being off the coast of Iran on Sept. 8. The tanker does not list a destination.
In August, the US seized more than a million barrels of Iran oil purportedly heading to Venezuela aboard four ships. The companies responsible for the shipment are now challenging the seizure in US court.
The United States says that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, which Iran denies. Washington maintains harsh sanctions on the Islamic Republic as a result, including on its energy industry. The United States also supports an opposition government in Venezuela and sanctions its fledgling oil sector.
Venezuela once had a thriving oil economy and is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. However, years of mismanagement and US sanctions have left the industry in bad shape, creating a need for Iranian oil.
Both Iran and Venezuela have difficulties selling their oil internationally due to US pressure, and this has brought the two countries closer in recent years. Iran also sends food to Venezuela.
Recent US sanctions on Iran target Venezuela as well. On Monday, the US announced it designated Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for allegedly violating a presidential order restricting weapons deals involving Iran.
Iranian fuel deliveries to Venezuela are likely to continue, barring another capture by the United States. Earlier this month, ship tracking data showed an Iranian tanker off the coast of South Africa. This longer route to South America around Africa helps Iran avoid the United States and its allied military presence in the Mediterranean.