According to a report by Stratfor, PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-owned oil and gas company, imported 200,000 barrels of Iranian heavy crude oil in April and an additional 400,000 barrels in the week of May 9.
Heightened trade relations between Iran and Venezuela will give PDVSA the ability to marginally boost its refined oil output in the short term via Venezuela’s Cardon refinery located in the state of Falcón. This refinery produces roughly 310,000 barrels of oil on a daily basis.
In all likelihood, the increased oil production will help Venezuela ramp up its domestic supply of oil and gas during a time when the nation is experiencing widespread shortages.
Iran and Venezuela are a natural match as economic and even military partners due to their mutual adversary in the US. This relationship did not just come out of the blue.
Venezuela and Iran were founding members of the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and have held bilateral relationships since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Venezuela’s and Iran’s relationship began tightening during the Hugo Chávez era (1999-2013). During this period, both countries cooperated on issues of construction, infrastructure, projects, and energy production.
When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came into office in 2005, he made it a point to strengthen ties with the Chávez regime. During their time in power, Ahmadinejad and Chávez met each other in multiple state visits and signed over 270 bilateral deals on matters concerning social programs and infrastructure development.
The respective leaders of these countries have positioned their governments as opponents of “US imperialism” and have positioned themselves as an “axis of unity” against the US-dominated political order.
Following the death of Chávez in 2013, Nicolás Maduro has continued his predecessor’s policy of strengthening relations with Iran. The Middle Eastern nation extended major diplomatic support to Maduro back in January 2019 when President of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó attempted to oust Maduro from power. Countries such as Brazil, Canada, the United States, the European Union and several Latin American countries such as Argentina and Colombia recognized Guaidó as interim president. On the other hand, countries such as China, Russia, Turkey, and Iran backed Maduro in this presidential crisis.
In the following year, Iran sent five oil tankers to the embattled Venezuelan regime whose economic policies have led to the widespread mismanagement of its oil sector.
Iran and Venezuela share a common adversary in the United States, which makes them natural partners. As the US has antagonized Iran and other countries in Eurasia, Iran has cleverly returned the favor by building ties with Venezuela and is even allegedly using its proxies such as Hezbollah to expand its footprint in Venezuela.
Both countries will also be solid partners for Russia and China as they construct parallel geopolitical and geoeconomic structures to compete against the dominant Anglo-American order.
Iran and Venezuela’s increased cooperation on energy matters is just another sign of the parallel order being formed to counter the collective West.