The Times of Malta on 11th August reported claims that Venezuela is using Hurds Bank, a shallow offshore bank located to the east of Malta, to make significant ship-to-ship transfers of oil products. Since June it is reported that at least 10 chemical or product tankers were tracked undertaking ship-to-ship transfers in waters off Malta, with cargoes then travelling to Venezuela. According to Lloyds List, about 400,000 tonnes of refined products have been shipped since the beginning of June. What Venezuela requires is diluent, which usually comes in the form of light crude oil or heavy naphtha to dilute the thick and heavy crude produced by Venezuela for export. The origins of the oil products which are being transferred to Venezuela’s tankers on Hurds Bank are not known.
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