Venezuela Tells IMO US Sanctions Idled Tanker Fleet Costing Economy $642B

Venezuela oil tanker
Tanker alongside PDVSA's terminal (file photo)

Published Jan 19, 2024 6:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

Venezuela is highlighting a meeting with the new Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization as it continues its campaign to end U.S. and international sanctions against the oil and gas industry. In a press statement and social media posting Venezuela highlighted that Vice President Delcy Rodríguez “denounced the impact of the blockade against Venezuela and its vessels before the IMO.”

The Vice President said she had a “fruitful working meeting,” with the Secretary-General which provided the opportunity for Venezuela to share its concerns on important issues, including the “blockade” on its fleet of oil tankers. They emphasized the economic impact saying that the U.S. and its allies between 2015 and 2022 have blocked along four billion barrels of oil production. They said this amounted to $323 billion in direct income and $642 billion in economic impact for the country.

During the meeting, she called the sanctions illegal and said they amounted to a “terrible policy of economic aggression against Venezuela.”

During the meeting, the Vice President outlined to the IMO the impact the sanctions are having on the country’s tanker fleet. She stated that 39 ships belonging to the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) were forced into layup because of the sanctions. Further, she contends that 30 other merchant ships were also impacted. 

They contended that Venezuela has the largest number of blocked ships worldwide. She contended that Venezuela has over 900 restrictive measures imposed against it but that none of them have been established by the UN Security Council which is the only legal international organization for these types of actions. 

President Nicolas Maduro continues to ask for “the end of this illegal and illegitimate blockade,” they wrote in the briefing statement after the meeting.



Over the past few months, there have been a few signs of a thawing of the U.S. position on Venezuela in response to an internationally-brokered agreement that was supposed to set the stage for free elections in Venezuela. Maduro agreed to a series of steps including releasing political prisoners and ending restrictions on political opposition. 

The U.S. in turn in October relaxed some of the restrictions on the Venezuelan oil industry permitting the first shipments. Reuters reported that Chevron and others would be sending tankers to export oil under the initial six-month reduction in sanctions. Venezuela however is pressing for a wider end to the sanctions and the opportunity to restart its shipping operations.

In December they agreed to swap Americans being detained in prison or the country and extradite Leonard Francis aka “Fat Leonard,” the notorious mastermind of a scheme to defraud the U.S. Navy and win contracts by plying U.S. Navy officers with meals and prostitutes for information. The U.S. released a close political ally of Maduro in the exchange.