Undeterred by US sanctions, Venezuela has reportedly resumed direct oil shipments to China after a year of underground trading. Venezuelan oil exports had crashed to multi-decade lows under intense pressure from Washington.

The first tanker to restart the shipping of crude from the shores of the Bolivarian Republic to China was the Kyoto, which loaded 1.8 million barrels of oil at Venezuela’s Jose port in late August, according to data from shipping monitoring service Tanker Trackers, as quoted by Reuters.

The data cited by the agency shows that Chinese state-run companies China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and PetroChina put shipments of crude and fuel from Venezuelan ports on pause in August 2019. The move came shortly after the White House broadened its economic penalties against state company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

The Warrior King is another oil tanker unloading Venezuelan heavy crude at China’s Bayuquan port, while two PetroChina-owned vessels loaded oil in Venezuela this month, the agency reported, citing Refinitiv Eikon vessel-tracking data plus PDVSA’s loading schedules and shipping documents.

Venezuela plunged deeper into political crisis in early 2019, after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself ‘interim president’ following calls for regime change from Washington. While offering support to Guaido, the White House introduced multiple rounds of sanctions against the South American nation, essentially banning American imports of Venezuelan oil and oil products. The restrictions also banned American companies from doing business with the Venezuelan government, as well as the country’s state-run enterprises.

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