July 25, 2022 [Reuters] – A tanker carrying some 700,000 barrels of Russian fuel oil is delivering its cargo at a Cuban terminal, Refinitiv Eikon vessel tracking data showed, a move to ease the fuel scarcity that has forced power cuts and rationing in the island.
Cuba has ramped up fuel imports in recent months, aiming to complement domestic output and imports from its political ally Venezuela, which is itself struggling to produce enough fuel.
A portion of the purchases are coming from Russia, a country that has supplied Cuba intermittently in recent years, as the Cuban government tries to limit its rising energy import bill.
The Liberia-flagged Aframax tanker Suvorovsky Prospect, which loaded at Russia’s Ust-Luga terminal, arrived in Cuban waters late last week, according to Refinitiv Eikon vessel monitoring data.
The tanker, owned by a unit of U.S.-blacklisted Russian shipping conglomerate Sovcomflot (FLOT.MM), on Sunday began to discharge at the Matanzas terminal, where state-run Cubametales typically stores crude and fuel, the data showed.
Cuba’s foreign ministry did not reply to a request for comment. President Miguel Diaz Canel has criticized high global fuel prices, which are becoming almost unaffordable for the country.
A previous fuel cargo from Russia’s Vladivostok port on the Pacific Ocean, on tanker Eco City of Angels, was received in February at the same Cuban port. Cuba has also imported at least two cargoes of Russian crude since March, according to the Eikon data.
The United States and Canada have since March imposed sanctions on Russian oil and fuel over its invasion of Ukraine, while Europe and Britain are moving toward an end-of-year embargo on Russian crude imports.
But some Latin American and Caribbean countries have continued allowing Russian tankers to dock at ports or receiving imports of Russian crude, fuel and petrochemicals. Brazil’s government this month said the country will import as much diesel as possible from Russia to supply drivers and the agricultural industry.
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