U.S. Blacklists Nine Vessels for Venezuelan Sanctions Violations

The FSO Alba Marina, a permanently moored installation, was blacklisted because her operator allegedly transported Venezuelan petroleum to Cuba on a different vessel (file image courtesy PB Tankers)

Published Apr 15, 2019 2:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Treasury has blacklisted four more shipowners and nine tankers in connection with Venezuelan oil sales to Cuba. Five of the vessels are not accused of calling in Venezuela during the period covered by U.S. sanctions, but are owned by a firm that has allegedly engaged in sanctioned transactions.

Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) asserts that ships operating in this trade are violating American sanctions on state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA). The sanctions measures are part of the U.S. campaign to remove the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.  

“We continue to target companies that transport Venezuelan oil to Cuba, as they are profiting while the Maduro regime pillages natural resources. Venezuela’s oil belongs to the Venezuelan people, and should not be used as a bargaining tool to prop up dictators,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement. “Maduro relies on the support he receives from the Cuban military and intelligence services to retain his hold on power.”

The vessels blacklisted for participating in this trade include:

- the crude tanker Nedas (IMO: 9289166)

- the crude tanker New Hellas (IMO: 9221891)

- the product tanker S-Trotter (IMO: 9216547)

The holding companies that own the Nedas, New Hellas and S-Trotter are all based in Liberia, and OFAC blacklisted these entities. Equasis shows that three Athens-based operators receive the business correspondence for these overseas holding companies, a common arrangement in international shipping; however, neither the operators nor their other vessels were blacklisted.

Treasury blacklisted all six vessels operated by Italian shipping company PB Tankers, which holds most of its fleet in its own name. Only one of its ships was accused of engaging in banned activity. These vessels include:

- the product tanker Silver Point (IMO: 9510462), which allegedly delivered oil products from Venezuela to Cuba in March

- the permanently moored FSO Alba Marina (IMO: 9151838)

- the product tanker Gold Point (IMO: 9506693) 

- the product tanker Ice Point (IMO: 9379337) 

- the product tanker Indian Point (IMO: 9379325) 

- and the product tanker Iron Point (IMO: 9388209)

OFAC sanctions penalties are significant. All U.S.-based or U.S.-controlled property belonging to sanctioned entities is blocked and must be reported. OFAC’s regulations also generally prohibit dealings by U.S. persons that involve any blacklisted entities' property, including transactions that pass through the American financial system.