Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji is in Venezuela to visit oil facilities and sign contracts in the energy sector, unnamed sources revealed to Bloomberg.
Heading a delegation of more than a dozen people, Owji arrived in Caracas on Saturday and visited the Paraguana refining complex in western Venezuela with an official of Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company Petróleos de Venezuela PDVSA, Asdrubal Chavez.
According to the sources who asked not to be identified, the two were expected to sign energy cooperation deals on Monday.
Asdrubal Chavez is the cousin of the late president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and the former president of Citgo a subsidiary of PDVSA, a transporter and marketer of transportation fuels and petrochemicals based in Houston, Texas.
Iran and Venezuela have been slapped with sanctions by the US, which doesn’t currently import oil from either nation, and has in recent years reimposed sanctions on Iranian state entities, including the national oil company NIOC, and in 2019 blacklisted PDVSA.
The two countries strengthened their cooperation in 2020, with Venezuela importing condensate from Iran, key to thin its extra-thick crude oil. Iran has also stepped in to help its South American ally with engineers, refined products and spare parts for its oil industry.
In March, a rare meeting between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and high-ranking American officials in Caracas prompted speculation that sanction relief was on the table to free up oil supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.