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Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent oil trader, has hired a supertanker to load oil from Venezuela, lists of ship charters compiled by Bloomberg showed on Wednesday.
Vitol has hired Gustavia S, capable of carrying 2 million barrels of oil, which is now en route to the Gulf of Mexico, per vessel-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
Gustavia S, booked for $11 million, is set to load Venezuelan oil later in November or in early December.
The return of the top international oil trading houses to Venezuela follows last month’s easing of the sanctions on the Latin American country.
In October, the United States lifted most sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry after the Nicolas Maduro government reached a deal with the opposition that could see elections held next year.
The U.S. issued a six-month general license temporarily authorizing transactions involving the oil and gas sector in Venezuela. The license will only be renewed if Venezuela meets its commitments under the so-called electoral roadmap, the U.S. Treasury noted.
The license, valid until April 18, 2024, authorizes the production, lifting, sale, and exportation of oil or gas from Venezuela, and the provision of related goods and services, as well as payment of invoices for goods or services related to oil or gas sector operations in Venezuela.
After the sanctioned were eased, commodity trading giants are back in the business of trading with oil from the country with the world’s largest reserves.
Some of the largest independent oil trading houses are already offering Venezuelan cargoes, including to U.S. buyers. Commodity giants have also struck deals to buy crude from intermediaries approved by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA.
Gunvor Group was the first of the biggest trading houses to offer to U.S. refiners a supertanker of Venezuelan crude, according to sources familiar with the matter who spoke to Bloomberg.
Gunvor and another commodity trading giant, Trafigura, have accessed Venezuelan cargoes in recent weeks after buying crude from intermediaries approved by PDVSA, Reuters reported last week, citing company documents and four people with knowledge of the deals.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com