The vessel, one of six Iranian ships sent to the Latin American nation in recent weeks to help relieve fuel shortages and restore Caracas’ oil refining capabilities, is also said to be carrying equipment to help Venezuela tackle the coronavirus crisis.
The Golsan general purpose cargo ship has entered the port of La Guaira in Venezuela after a 36 day journey from Bandar Abbas, Iran, MarineTraffic has confirmed.
Tweet reads: “According to the latest GPS position update, Iran’s Golsan cargo ship is already docked at the port of La Guaira. #ThankYouIran”
Earlier, the Iranian Embassy in Caracas confirmed via Twitter that among other things, the Golsan is carrying food supplies “to open the first Iranian supermarket in Venezuela,” and said that the ship’s mission is “another success in friendly and fraternal relations between the two countries.”
The Golsan, a 168.5 meter bulk carrier, has a carrying capacity of 22,882 tons, and in addition to food, is believed to be transporting supplies to help Venezuela in its coronavirus response. Earlier, The Washington Post reported that the ship was also carrying fuel, and equipment to help Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA restore its refining capacity, which collapsed last year amid US sanctions pressure.
Before the Golsan’s arrival, Iran already delivered an estimated 1.5 million barrels’ worth of gasoline to Venezuela aboard five tankers between late May and early June. The US responded to the goodwill gesture by threatening tanker operators with sanctions, and even reportedly considered intercepting ships at sea. Iran later warned that it would respond if any of its ships were threatened, possibly through tit-for-tat actions against US vessel in the Persian Gulf.
On Saturday, Iranian media confirmed that Iran would continue to supply Venezuela with fuel on a monthly basis to help it recover its independent production capability, and noted that Tehran would continue to trade with other countries regardless of US sanctions pressure or threats.
Even though it possesses the world’s largest proven oil reserves, and a capacity to refine up to 1.3 million barrels of oil per day, Venezuela has produced just a fraction of that amount in recent months the wake of crushing US sanctions, which led to shortages of spare parts and skilled workers, as well as the recent global collapse of oil prices.
Earlier this month, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he felt obliged to personally thank the Iranian people for Tehran’s assistance in Venezuela’s time of need. A concrete date for the visit has yet to be announced.
Listed as pariah states by Washington in the 2000s, relations between Iran and Venezuela have flourished over the past two decades, with Caracas and Tehran considering one another strategic allies and signing a multitude of agreements in areas including energy, technology and science, medicine, agriculture, housing and infrastructure.