- The US has imposed sanctions on ships making oil deliveries to Venezuela.
- China is looking to avoid sanctioned shipping agencies.
- The Trump administration wants Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro to relinquish power.
Chinese oil companies have stopped chartering oil tankers that have, in the past year, delivered consignments to Venezuela. This is following a new directive by the United States government sanctioning vessels involved in boosting the Venezuela oil sector. According to the Department of the Treasury, companies aiding the corrupt regime of President Nicholas Maduro are in contravention of current statutes.
Venezuela has, in the past few months, suffered an acute shortage of oil due to the lack of refinery elements needed to process its oil. The situation has been compounded by US government embargos that prevent other nations from providing this valuable resource.
Iran, which has also been hit with a flurry of sanctions by the Trump administration, because of its nuclear program, has sought to help Venezuela by making badly needed oil deliveries to the nation. The US government had in recent weeks warned that any entity involved in facilitating the transportation of oil to Venezuela would face consequences.
The embargoes target vessels, their respective shipping companies, and ports. There are fears among Chinese export firms that using sanctioned tankers could lead to deliveries being prohibited. More than 77 ships have docked in Venezuelan ports since December last year.
The Chinese government is also looking to avoid an economic clash with the United States at this time, hence the concerted effort to avoid compromised shipping agencies. Earlier this month, the Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on four companies that have been involved in the Venezuelan oil industry.
The vessels include the Athens Voyager, which is owned by Afranav Maritime Ltd, a Panamanian oil company, Seacomber a ship owned by Chios I (Malta), Seahero operated by Adamant Maritime Ltd (Bahamas), and Voyager I, run by Sanibel Shiptrade Ltd (Bahamas).
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has issued a formal warning to other companies that are looking to help Venezuela.
“The illegitimate Maduro regime has enlisted the help of maritime companies and their vessels to continue the exploitation of Venezuela’s natural resources for the regime’s profit. The United States will continue to target those who support this corrupt regime and contribute to the suffering of the Venezuelan people.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has additionally underlined that the US government will continue to put pressure on the Maduro regime until the corrupt establishment relinquishes power.
Tensions between the United States, Iran and Venezuela have increased in recent months due to oil deliveries. Venezuela has sent out its navy to escort vessels making oil deliveries from Iran. The precaution has been taken to deter interceptions by the Americans.
The US has avoided a direct military confrontation with the two nations and decided to use sanctions instead. By creating an artificial oil shortage, the Trump administration hopes to cause social unrest, which could lead to President Maduro abdicating power.
This is, however, unlikely to happen, since he and some of his close associates have been indicted by a court in the US for drug trafficking offenses. Maduro is backed by the Venezuelan military, which also profits from dabbling in the drugs trade.