Iranian MODAFL and Venezuela’s PDVSA Petroleum Trade
An oddly mutual and beneficial business
March 2024

WikIran exposes documents related to the questionable oil trade between Venezuela’s PDVSA to the MODAFL’s Sahara Thunder. This deal appears to be a part of a long chain of deals conducted in recent years between the Islamic Republic’s MODAFL and its corrupt counterpart, the Maduro regime. On common news outlets, these deals were usually referred to as barter deals, in which either the MODAFL or other Iranian entities exported light crude oil or condensates to Venezuela (in order to enable their processing in Venezuela’s dysfunctional and rusty refineries) in return for gold or very heavy Venezuelan crude oil (“tar sands”) in a quantity worth considerably more than the Iranian goods. Afterwards, as can be seen in the case of M/T WON, the Venezuelan oil has been sold to East Asian buyers.


This case is different. It appears that the MODAFL (again, through Sahara Thunder) bought the oil using its Euro currency resources in Russia (possibly earned from arms exports to Russia as part of the Russia-Ukraine war). The funds were to be transferred to PDVSA’s account in Evrofinance Mosnarbank Moscow.


As can be seen in the picture, it is evident that PDVSA sold Sahara Thunder 1.9M barrels of crude oil, worth 122M Euros, paid through a Russian bank and shipped to Singapore.

WikIran’s editorial set forth a few possible explanations for this bizarre instance where Iran’s MODAFL bought oil from Venezuela, only to be sold again in East Asia, Iran’s preferable petroleum destination: firstly, the lack of restrictive measures for the sale of Venezuelan oil compared to Iranian oil might be the reason for this switch. Secondly, significant discounts in oil price in comparison to the price MODAFL is asked to pay by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), considering the large portion of various Iranian security forces’ budget being allocated to them by the amount of oil they would sell. Given the MODAFL’s oil abundance, what other reason would they have besides a significant discount for them to choose buying inferior Venezuelan oil or receiving it as payment instead of selling more Iranian oil? As it appears in the following contract from 2022, they receive a discount of 22 USD off the price of each barrel.


One can only wonder whether corrupted MODAFL leaders or representatives in Venezuela are taking cuts or other material benefits from the deal. Sadly, it would not be much of a surprise.

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