The Iranian-flagged freighter Golsan’s journey signals a blossoming relationship between the two nations in defiance of stiff financial sanctions by the administration of the US President Donald Trump against each of them, AP reported.
Russ Dallen, head of the Miami-based investment firm Caracas Capital Markets, said he believes "that it is carrying parts to continue repairing Venezuela’s collapsed refineries.”
According to AP, Golsan left Shahid Rajaee Port in Iran's southern city of Bandar Abbas in mid-May and is heading in the direction of Venezuelan shores.
The Golsan approached Caribbean waters on Friday. It could reach a Venezuelan port by Sunday or Monday, said Dallen, based on tracking technology.
Earlier in the month, five Iranian oil tankers carrying millions of barrels of gasoline and components entered the ports of the fuel-starved South American country and are now on their way back to Iran, Press TV wrote.
Caracas says its deep gasoline shortages have eased since the Iranian tankers delivered fuel.
With Iran's recent technical help, Venezuela has also managed to get the Paraguana Refinery Complex, one of the largest in the world, partially working and producing gasoline, Dallen said.
Reuters recently reported that Iran may continue to ship fuel to sanctions-hit Venezuela at a rate of about two to three cargoes per month.
“Tehran plans to keep up the shipments, according to five trading and industry sources close to the Oil Ministry,” the news agency said.
Venezuela is grappling with shortages of gasoline due to sanctions unilaterally imposed by the United States on Caracas.
Iran’s fuel shipments to Venezuela drew the ire of the Trump administration in Washington, which had previously threatened to block new oil tankers between Tehran and Caracas to prevent them from reaching the Venezuelan coast.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had warned of retaliatory measures against the US should Washington cause problems for tankers carrying Iranian fuel to Venezuela.
Venezuela sits on the world’s largest oil reserves. The country’s refineries can produce more than 1.3 million barrels per day of fuel, but they are working at less than 20% of their capacity mainly due to power outages and lack of spare parts amid the US sanctions.
The US seeks to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, backing his political rival Juan Guaidó.
US anti-Venezuela measures
Maduro blames many of the problems on US sanctions and other measures to undermine his rule. He says the US wants to install a puppet government so it can exploit Venezuela's vast resources.
Former national security adviser John Bolton writes in a book set to be published on Tuesday that Trump had insisted on military options against the South American nation, because “it’s really part of the United States.”
However, Maduro remains in power, and deep gasoline shortages that recently hit the capital of Caracas have eased since the Iranian tankers delivered fuel.