Latvian ships being used to deliver oil to Venezuela

Ships operated by Latvijas kuģniecība (Latvian Shipping Company/LSC) and the Danish company Torm are currently the two largest lines delivering oil to Venezuela following the imposition of sanctions by the United States, reports LSM's Russian language service.

Citing information from shipping industry news portal TradeWinds, from 1 February to the end of last week, seven tankers from the LSC fleet completed shipments of petroleum products to Venezuela. In addition five vessels owned by Torm also shipped refined products to Venezuela.

"Sanctions-hit Venezuela is turning to India and Spain for supplies of refined products, while Russia may also be increasing exports to Venezuela via Ventspils, Latvia," TradeWinds said.

LSC, a subsidiary of oil trading giant Vitol, has yet to respond to requests for comment, but global ship tracker sites show for example that the LSC tanker with the very Latvian name "Ance" is currently in Venezuelan waters.

Meanwhile another LSC ship, "Puze" is en route to Liepāja from Venezuela.

Deliveries to and from Venezuela are not illegal for non-US companies but are seen as increasingly risky as the US cranks up pressure on the regime of Nicolas Maduro following a presidential election condemned as flawed by the US and several EU countries, including Latvia.

Russian newspaper “Novaya Gazeta” wrote that oil giant “Rosneft” has agreed to supply the Venezuelan state oil and gas company PDVSA with “vital oil products” following the imposition of US sanctions against PDVSA on January 28, though it is not clear if these are the shipments being taken by the Latvian fleet.

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