Oil Traders: Venezuela ships fuel to war-torn Syria

The government of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is emerging as a rare supplier of diesel to Syria, potentially undermining Western sanctions and helping the Syrian government ..



A cargo of diesel, which can be used to fuel army tanks or as heating fuel, was expected to arrive at Syria’s Mediterranean port of Banias this week, according to two traders and shipping data. The cargo could be worth up to $50 million.

Chavez is a vociferous advocate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,

Chavez, who still defends the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, has repeatedly backed Arab leaders

Asked on Thursday about the shipments to Syria and whether they could be used for military purposes, Chavez said Venezuela never asked the United States what it did with the fuel that Venezuela sold it, and that no one could dictate to Caracas.

"We are free. We are a free country," he said, standing with his friend Sean Penn, the U.S. actor, who is visiting Venezuela.

Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA shipped the cargo aboard the Negra Hipolita vessel, according to AIS tracking data on the Reuters Freight Fundamentals Database and trade sources. The same tanker carried the first such shipment in November, the sources said.

PDVSA could not immediately be reached for comment.


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