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Iran oil minister travels to Venezuela for energy deals

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Iran oil minister Javad Owji is making a rare trip to Venezuela that includes visiting oil facilities and signing energy deals between the two US-sanctioned nations, said people with knowledge of the situation.

Owji and more than a dozen delegates arrived in Caracas on Saturday, according to the people, who asked not to be identified. Owji and his delegation visited the Paraguana refining complex in western Venezuela with Petroleos de Venezuela SA head Asdrubal Chavez. Both are expected to sign energy cooperation deals on Monday, the people said.

Venezuela’s oil ministry and state-owned oil company PDVSA did not reply to a request for comment.

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Both Iran and Venezuela have been slapped with sanctions by the US, which doesn’t currently import oil from either nation. A rare meeting between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and high-ranking American officials in Caracas in March prompted speculation that sanction relief was on the table to free up oil supplies in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Venezuela and Iran have increased cooperation in light of US sanctions. Venezuela imports condensate from Iran, key to thin its extra-thick crude oil. Iran has also stepped in to help its South American ally with engineers, refined products and spare parts for its oil industry.

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