Greek shipowners face the prospect of not being paid for loads worth millions of euros or having them confiscated when they get involved with high-yield but high-risk trading in refined oil products with Venezuela. With the US sanctions to Caracas coming into force in April, it is likely that shippers’ payment demands for deliveries made will be in vain.
Already at least two Greek-owned tankers, belonging to Horizon Tankers and Hellenic Tankers, have been seized by the Venezuelan authorities and were only released after their cargoes were confiscated.
Those tankers were carrying refined fuel for the Venezuelan market. According to shipbrokerage sources and reports by industry review TradeWinds, the vessels had stopped some miles off the Venezuelan coast but within the country’s territorial waters and were insisting that they would not deliver their loads until they were paid for previous deliveries. This practice has recently become quite common as there have been major delays in payments by Venezuela’s state oil company, which faces obligations of $34.6 billion.
However, the country’s authorities cited an emergency to sidestep the English law – which fuel delivery contracts are based on – and enforce Venezuelan law so as to confiscate the loads of the two Greek tankers as well as several others.