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Greek tankers removed from Venezuela blacklist

Experts say moves underline deterrents are working

Four companies benefit — Thenamaris, NGM Energy, Chemnav and Eurotanker

FOUR Greek-owned tankers that have run foul of US sanctions against Venezuela in recent weeks have been given parole.

Two of the vessels, the Thenamaris-managed very large crude carrier Seahero and the NGM Energy-linked Voyager I, were among four tankers sanctioned by the US treasury department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) on June 2 in a move widely interpreted as a warning shot to shipowners continuing to lift Venezuelan oil cargoes.

The two tankers had been on Ofac’s list of “specially designated nationals,” known as the “SDN list,” for the past month.

Removed along with them are the Chemnav-managed aframax Delos Voyager and the Eurotankers-managed aframax Euroforce, both of which were blacklisted just two weeks ago.

Thenamaris was first to acknowledge the development, saying that its VLCC had been removed from the list after “full co-operation” with the US authorities. The vessel’s registered owning company had also been removed.

The company said it had “always placed the highest priority on regulatory compliance, including international trade sanctions.” 

In addition to halting any further carriage of crude oil from Venezuela for as long as US sanctions apply, Thenamaris said it had “further enhanced its compliance controls, including its sanctions protocol and associated internal processes.”

Similar steps, notably declaring a halt to any further trading with Venezuela, have been taken by other owners to have their vessels wiped off the blacklist.

Tankers operated by Dynacom and Chemnav Shipmanagement, that were among the four blacklisted on June 2, were removed from the SDN list on June 18.

The relatively swift removals of the vessels from the blacklist will have underlined the upside to co-operating fully with US sanctions, according to observers.

“It certainly could be viewed as a stick-and-carrot approach.  The US government will view these companies more favourably if they demonstrate a commitment to establishing a comprehensive compliance programme and implement internal controls to prevent them from doing business in jurisdictions that the US has targeted for sanctions,” said experts at US law firm Seward & Kissel recently.

Attorneys Bruce Paulsen and Andrew Jacobson told Lloyd’s List that there was “every reason to believe” that Ofac and other US governmental agencies will continue a “full-court press on the shipping industry” in Washington’s effort to further pressure the Maduro regime.

 “As the US and Ofac intensify pressure on Venezuela, we expect to see more companies take a risk-based approach in doing business in, and with, Venezuela,” they said.

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