There's been persistent chatter in the last few days about secret talks in Caracas between Donald Trump's envoys and Nicolas Maduro, aimed at easing Maduro from power. Former union boss Carlos Ortega even said it was a done deal. The sanctions regime imposed by U.S. Treasury on Venezuela / PDVSA is causing huge cash flow problem for Maduro and co. Alex Saab's arrest in Cape Verde deprived Maduro of his star energy trader, and has brought PDVSA's exports almost to a complete halt. Aided by Greek shipping magnates, Spain's Repsol and Italy's ENI continue lifting Venezuelan crude. As with latest sanctions on Iranian tanker masters, Treasury should immediately include Greek shipowners in its SDN list, and Repsol, and ENI.
This site has been sharing a lot of shipping data with Trump administration's officials in charge of formulating Venezuela policy. Whatever we get, we share, including PDVSA's SAP data. This might have triggered unexpected troubles for Maduro, like for instance that of vessel Kelly, which we first flagged on 6 May and it is still somewhere carrying 2MB of unsold Merey.
Tanker Kelly lifted a couple million barrels of Merey from José, off grid for a while, switched AIS on before entering Med, now headed for Turkey. Allegedly, Mex co JOMADI first crude-gasoline swap with @PDVSA Cc @USTreasury pic.twitter.com/OYwufKLj6i
— Alek Boyd “Plagiarism is corruption” (@infodi0) May 6, 2020
It has been reported elsewhere that "nearly two months worth of Venezuelan oil output are stuck at sea...", which is s direct consequence of sanctions regime. This site also exposed Saab's web of shell companies, used interchangeably in PDVSA's shipping line ups and SAP system.
But where it gets confusing, is in Treasury's lack of action against certain actors. Repsol, ENI and Tipco, despite not having special OFAC licenses, continue trading with PDVSA. When this site revealed email communications related to a 1MB cargo due to be lifted in early June by Dynacom's tanker Novo, someone at Dynacom cancelled the deal. However no further action seems to have been taken against George Prokopiou or his Dynacom company.
Same applies to Diamantis Diamantidis, whose Delta Tankers Ltd vessels have being used in June by both Repsol (Delta Med, Delta Atlantica, Delta Star) and ENI (Delta Captain, Delta Tolmi) to lift cargoes, and yet no sanctions are imposed either on him, or on his tanker masters and vessels.
Treasury recently included a number of Iranian captains in its SDN list. These were the captains that sailed the five gasoline-carrying vessels that Iran sent to Venezuela. Shared PDVSA shipping line up and SAP data contain details of dozens of vessels that have been leased in operations associated to Saab, Maduro and PDVSA in the last six months. In this very complex business of crude trading, not only the owner of the vessel, captain / crew, seller / buyer of cargo are involved: traders, insurers, port agents, inspectors, banks and other parties are also involved.
It is, of course, a gargantuan task to identify every link in the chain of every deal. A simpler solution is to just slap into compliance the likes of Prokopiou and Diamantidis, so their fleets remain out of bounds for Repsol and ENI. Ditto Thenamaris, Baltic Shipping Company deals with TIPCO, etc. It remains a mystery why these people / companies have not been added by Treasury to its sanctioned parties list.
The message to all doing business with Maduro ought to be loud and clear: continued deals with chavismo will have severe consequences. To caution the entire shipping industry in Greece has the added benefit that it will cause no political blowback whatsoever to the U.S. government.