Venezuela is the owner of the world’s largest oil reserves, but its oil industry is hobbled by US sanctions which have thrown the country into its worst economic crisis in years, Press TV reported.
Maduro said $30 billion have been lost each year since 2015, adding, “It’s impossible to imagine the amount of pressure placed on our economy.”
“For every 100 dollars obtained through oil sales in 2014, we receive one today,” which means oil revenues fell from more than $56 billion in 2013 “to less than $400 million last year,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
According to Maduro, Venezuela experienced the “sharpest” foreign exchange losses in its history between 2014 and 2019. “In six years we lost 99 percent of our foreign exchange revenues,” he said.
The main reason for the huge drop in revenues was “the war declared on oil prices,” to “attacking the world’s major producers,” he said.
With most ship-owners and oil traders shunning business with Venezuela for fear of the sanctions, Iran has emerged as the only country helping Caracas bring its refineries back to service and cope with an acute fuel shortage.
The Iran-flagged tanker Forest, the first of a group of three tankers transporting some 270,000 barrels of Iranian fuel to Venezuela, entered the waters of the South American country on Monday, reports said.
The two following Iranian tankers, the Faxon and the Fortune, are estimated to arrive in early October. They are together expected to deliver about 820,000 barrels of gasoline and other fuels, helping to ease shortages in Venezuela.
The same vessels and two additional Iranian tankers delivered 1.5 million barrels of gasoline and diesel fuel to Venezuela between May and June despite US threats to stop them, while the South American nation shipped a cargo vessel carrying alumina to Iran’s Bandar Abbas port.
A very large Iranian crude carrier (VLCC) is expected to leave Venezuela’s Jose port, with 1.9 million barrels of Venezuelan heavy oil which is for sale in Asia.
Lessons learnt from Iran
On Tuesday, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza was quoted as saying that his country had learnt from Tehran how to confront coercive US measures.
After talking with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif via a video call, Arreaza also said that Venezuela’s historic relations with Iran are at their best.
Washington has sought to disrupt the deepening bilateral trade between the two countries.
Last month, the US government went on a full-throttle propaganda campaign, claiming that it had seized 1.116 million barrels of Iranian fuel because it was bound for Venezuela.
Iran, however, asserted that neither the ships were Iranian nor their owners; their cargo had no connection with the Islamic Republic.
Leading American magazine Foreign Policy said this month that Tehran is now sharing its lessons in resilience with the beleaguered Venezuelan government.
“The simple fact that Iran, which has faced a broad campaign of sanctions for more than a decade, has recently come to the aid of Venezuela, which has been under concerted sanctions pressure for only a few years, suggests a remarkable degree of economic resilience. When comparing the two economies, the most salient question is not whether Iran will become like Venezuela, but rather whether Venezuela will become more like Iran,” the US publication said.
Venezuela pledged to continue trade with Iran after the US announced new sanctions on Iranian officials’ entities as well as President Maduro this month.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said, “No intimidating and arrogant action by the US government will prevent it from exercising its sovereign right to establish economic and commercial relations freely with the Islamic Republic of Iran or with any State.”