Venezuela Says First of Iranian Fuel Tankers to Arrive Saturday

A member of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) holds a gun while standing guard at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 6.
Photographer: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg

The first of five Iranian vessels bringing millions of barrels of gasoline to fuel-starved Venezuela is set to arrive today, according to Venezuelan state media.

Military ships and planes will escort the tankers to one of the South American nation’s refineries, state TV reported on Saturday. They’ll remain in the country for about four days to unload.

The shipments mark Iran’s latest round of help for Nicolas Maduro’s regime. Venezuela, home to the world’s largest oil reserves, is nearly out of gasoline following years of mismanagement and U.S. sanctions on its oil. Over the past two months, authorities have imposed rationing at gas stations nationwide, handing control over to military personnel.

relates to Venezuela Says First of Iranian Fuel Tankers to Arrive Saturday

Map showing the three closest tankers

The Trump administration is reviewing a host of options to deter Iran’s support for the Maduro regime, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Advisers to the president are urging a measured approach that doesn’t flare up U.S.-Iran tensions over a small supply of fuel, the person said.

Iran’s foreign ministry has said any attempt by the U.S. to stop them will be met with “a swift and decisive response.”

A crew of Iranian technicians is already at work at state-run Petroleos de Venezuela’s Cardon and Amuay refineries, as part of a broader assistance plan that’s brought over workers, supplies and parts in exchange for about 9 tons of gold, or $500 million worth.

— With assistance by Fabiola Zerpa