MIAMI – Crude oil tanker New Hellas has sailed from the Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, refinery in Amuay, to Cuban ports in Matanzas and Havana before. Those are the type of voyages President Donald Trump's administration wants to stop.
On Wednesday morning, the tanker departed out of Willemstad, Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island, and stopped moving north of Amuay, Venezuela, and east of Aruba after a status change that afternoon, according to services to track fleets such as My Ship Tracking and Marine Traffic.
The change was five days after the U.S. State Department released a statement from Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin warning the companies that are using oil tankers to deliver Venezuelan oil to Cuba .
"They are profiting while the Maduro regime pillages natural resources. Venezuela’s oil belongs to the Venezuelan people, and should not be used as a bargaining tool to prop up dictators," Mnuchin said.
U.S. authorities say the 18-year-old New Hellas tanker, which sails under the flag of Greece, is linked to Lima Shipping, a corporation based out of Monrovia, Liberia, and it is one of the nine tankers that have been violating U.S. sanctions.
Aside from Lima Shipping, there are three other companies facing sanctions over alleged links to the tankers. PB Tankers S.P.A., which is linked to six of the tankers, is based out of Palermo, Italy. The two others are based out of Monrovia, Liberia: Jennifer Navigation Ltd. is allegedly linked to Nedas, and Large Range Limited is linked to S-Trotter.
FSO Alba Marina and Ice Point sail with Italian flags. Gold Point, Indian Point, Iron Point and Silver Point sail with Malta flags. Nedas sails with a Greek flag and S-Trotter with a Panama flag. According to Marine Traffic, Silver Point was last in Cienfuegos, Cuba, April 16; S-Trotter was last in Matanzas, Cuba, April 20.
As a result of the alleged violations, U.S. authorities can block the companies' assets in the U.S. John Bolton, a national security adviser to Trump, said last week the sanctions are part of a new U.S. policy that is designed to pressure the leaders of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua to give up power.
"Maduro relies on the support he receives from the Cuban military and intelligence services to retain his hold on power," Mnuchin said.