Iranian Oil Minister arrives in Venezuela to sign energy agreements with regime
Iran and Venezuela have been sanctioned by the United States, which currently does not import oil from either country
May 2, 2022 4:13pm
Updated: May 2, 2022 7:10pm
Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji traveled to Venezuela on Saturday to visit oil facilities and sign energy agreements between the two countries, both of which are sanctioned by the United States.
Owji arrived in Caracas along with a dozen delegates and visited the Paraguaná refining complex in the west of the country with the head of Petróleos de Venezuela SA, Asdrúbal Chávez, Bloomberg reported. The agreements are expected to be signed on Monday.
The Venezuelan Ministry and state-owned oil company PDVSA did not respond to a request for comment from the media.
Iran and Venezuela have economic sanctions from the United States, which currently does not import oil from either country.
In March, senior U.S. officials made a surprise trip to Venezuela to meet with the regime of Nicolas Maduro, prompting speculation that the U.S. might lift the sanctions against the Latin American country and buy oil supplies from it following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Joe Biden's Administration clarified that "for now" it does not plan to import Venezuelan oil.
"It's not something we're actively talking about right now," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in mid-March after she was asked whether the U.S. would relax sanctions on Venezuela in order to import more crude from that country.
The possibility of this measure was criticized by several U.S. lawmakers from both parties after learning that Biden's senior officials had arrived in Caracas with the alleged aim of isolating Russia from its allies.
"The offer is the following: The United States is willing to lift sanctions against Venezuela and against Maduro, if he is willing to sell us oil and if he announces a future date for negotiations with the opposition," Senator Marco Rubio said at the time in a statement shared on his Twitter account following the visit.
Venezuela and Iran have increased their cooperation following the sanctions imposed by the United States. The Caracas regime imports condensate from Iran, key to diluting its oil, and also has engineers, refined products and spare parts for its oil industry shipped from Iran.