Chinese Company Ships Crude From Venezuela, Defying US Sanctions

August 27, 2022

An oil tanker at the loading terminal of the José Antonio Anzoátegui refinery of Venezuela

Since November 2020, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) has been in charge of transporting millions of barrels of Venezuelan oil as part of a deal to offset Caracas’ debt to Beijing. This was reported as an exclusive by British news agency Reuters on Friday, August 26, citing three unnamed sources. This agreement is mutually beneficial for both countries but is  in  clear defiance of US sanctions against Venezuela.

Starting from that date, CASIC has been transporting Venezuelan crude oil in three tankers it acquired in 2020 from PetroChina, a Chinese oil company belonging to the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). The crude oil is stored in a tank farm that it also got from PetroChina, the sources told Reuters.

CNPC had stopped loading oil at Venezuelan ports since August 2019 when the United States tightened its unilateral sanctions on Venezuela and especially on its oil sector. However, China never stopped importing Venezuelan crude, which was sent to Chinese ports through an indirect delivery method by traders who rebranded the crude as Malaysian.

CASIC has so far transported 13 shipments consisting of about 25 million barrels of oil, including two vessels that are due to arrive in China in September, according to the loading schedules of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and tanker tracking data from Refinitiv and Vortexa Analytics.

The 13 shipments, valued at about $1.5 billion at Venezuela’s formula prices for Merey crude, was declared “crude oil” at Chinese customs without specifying its origin, one of the sources told Reuters.

“All money from proceeds stays in China. Venezuela’s foreign affairs ministry is in charge of conciliation and accountability,” said another source. This person added that although part of each cargo pays down debt, the prices of other goods, such as COVID-19 vaccines, are also being subtracted from the crude sales.

China and Venezuela established diplomatic relations 48 years ago, and for the past few years the Asian giant has been a major ally of Venezuela, helping it bypass US sanctions aimed at toppling the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

On Thursday, August 25, President Maduro highlighted the prosperity and productivity that Venezuela has achieved despite the unilateral coercive measures imposed by Washington, attacks on the national currency, persecution of the oil sector, seizure of bank accounts, freezing of Venezuelan assets and theft of $30 billion worth of foreign assets of the state.

Source: HispanTV translation: Orinoco Tribune