Sailor dies aboard oil tanker moored off Venezuela: sources

(Reuters) – A sailor aboard an oil tanker anchored off Venezuela’s coast died on Saturday, three people with knowledge of the incident said, marking the second death in less than a week involving personnel aboard ships serving the crisis-stricken OPEC nation.

Juan Carlos Navarrete, a 58-year-old Cuban national serving as a helmsman aboard the Petion Panamax tanker, died after falling overboard while the tanker was anchored in Amuay Bay in western Venezuela, one of the sources, union leader Ivan Freites, said on Sunday.

Neither Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA, nor its oil or information ministries, immediately responded to requests for comment.

Both the Petion and its operator, Cyprus-registered Caroil Transport Marine Ltd, were hit with sanctions by the United States last September for transporting Venezuelan oil to Cuba. Washington has imposed sanctions on PDVSA as part of its bid to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who Cuba supports.

Freites said that since the sanctions, tankers transporting oil between Venezuela and Cuba frequently turn off their lights at night and switch off their location transmission systems to avoid detection, putting the safety of the crew at risk.

“They do these maneuvers without the necessary security conditions,” Freites said. “They are not complying with anything.”

Despite the sanctions, the Petion has taken several trips between Cuba and Venezuela in the past three months, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. It was scheduled to depart for Cuba in late February, according to Venezuelan port documents seen by Reuters, but the data show it has remained near Amuay.

Caroil Transport could not immediately be reached for comment.

Armed assailants killed the captain of the San Ramon oil tanker last Monday after boarding the ship while it was anchored off the Jose terminal in eastern Venezuela.

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