Venezuela detains three vessels for suspected fuel smuggling - navy
By Mircely Guanipa
PUNTO FIJO, Venezuela, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Three vessels suspected of smuggling subsidized fuel from Venezuela's refinery-rich Paraguana peninsula were detained this week by the country's navy, a local commander said on Saturday.
Sources told Reuters on Monday that seven people had been arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle diesel in a tanker owned by state oil company PDVSA.
Admiral Andres Gomez, commander of a local navy unit, confirmed tanker 'Negra Hipolita' was found with an excess load of 50,000 barrels of diesel fuel at the Cardon refinery.
Two additional vessels, both from Panama, were detained this week by the Venezuelan navy, also on smuggling suspicions, Gomez added. It was not immediately clear when they were apprehended.
PDVSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
An entire tank of heavily-subsidized gasoline in Venezuela costs less than one U.S. cent at the black market exchange rate, fomenting lucrative smuggling to neighboring countries, where it sells for near international market prices.
Vessel 'Mario G', chartered by PDVSA, was detained at the Amuay oil refinery with an excess of 1,018 barrels of fuel, worth over $186,000, said Gomez.
'Paola Valentina,' meanwhile, was detained for carrying 4,000 litres of gasoil without the correct invoices, among other anomalies, he added. Continuación...