The first of five Iranian tankers carrying fuel for gasoline-starved Venezuela entered the South American country’s exclusive economic zone on Saturday, despite a U.S. official’s warning that Washington was considering a response to the shipment. The tanker flotilla is carrying a total of 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and alkylate to Venezuela.
After, the tanker, named Fortune, reached the country’s waters the defense minister pledged that the military would escort the tankers once they reached Venezuela’s Exclusive Economic Zone due to what authorities described as threats from the United States.
The desperately needed shipments have caused a diplomatic standoff between the United States and Iran and Venezuela, which are under U.S. sanctions. Gasoline is scarce in Venezuela due to a near-complete breakdown of the OPEC nation’s 1.3 million barrel-per-day refining network.