Oil tankers ‘go dark’ off Venezuela to evade US sanctions


Oil tankers ‘go dark’ off Venezuela to evade US sanctions

In May, after pulling out of a Chinese shipyard for repairs, a giant oil tanker set out on a perilous journey. Dialing in “Caribbean” on a mandatory tracking system, the captain of the Liberia-flagged vessel headed west.

Then, weeks later, as it neared Venezuelan waters, the VL Nichioh suddenly stopped transmitting its location, course and speed in violation of international maritime rules, essentially vanishing on the high seas without a trace.

What happened while the ship was offline remains a mystery. But when it resurfaced nine days later while steaming toward Asia, the Nichioh was riding low in the water – a sure sign to ship-tracking experts that it had turned off its transponder to cloak a valuable cargo targeted by U.S. sanctions: Venezuelan crude oil.

As the Trump administration has clamped down on President Nicolas Maduro with sanctions set on depriving him of easy cash from Venezuela’s vast oil reserves Read More

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