Unloading a cargo of Russian fuel oil at the Cuban terminal in Matanzas

Liberian-flagged Aframax tanker Suvorovsky Prospect unloads fuel oil from Russia at the Matanzas terminal in Matanzas, Cuba July 16, 2022. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

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MATANZAS, Cuba, July 18 (Reuters) – A tanker carrying some 700,000 barrels of Russian fuel oil is delivering its cargo to a Cuban terminal, ship tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon, an initiative aimed at easing the fuel shortage that forced power cuts and rationing. in the island.

Cuba has increased its fuel imports in recent months, aiming to supplement domestic production and imports from its political ally Venezuela, which itself is struggling to produce enough fuel.

Some of the purchases come from Russia, a country that has supplied Cuba intermittently in recent years as the Cuban government tries to limit its rising energy import bill.

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The Liberian-flagged Aframax tanker Suvorovsky Prospect, which loaded at Russia’s Ust-Luga terminal, arrived in Cuban waters late last week, according to ship monitoring data from Refinitiv Eikon.

The tanker, owned by a unit of the US blacklisted Russian shipping conglomerate Sovcomflot (FLOT.MM), began unloading on Sunday at the Matanzas terminal, where the state-run Cubametales usually stores crude and fuel, according to the data.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. President Miguel Diaz Canel has criticized high global fuel prices, which are becoming almost unaffordable for the country.

A previous shipment of fuel from Russia’s Pacific Ocean port of Vladivostok, on the tanker Eco City of Angels, was received in February at the same Cuban port. Cuba has also imported at least two shipments of Russian crude since March, according to Eikon data.

The United States and Canada have since March imposed sanctions on Russian oil and fuel following its invasion of Ukraine, while Europe and Britain are heading for a year-end embargo on imports of Russian crude.

But some Latin American and Caribbean countries have continued to allow Russian tankers to dock at ports or receive imports of Russian crude, fuel and petrochemicals. The Brazilian government said this month that the country would import as much diesel as possible from Russia to supply drivers and the agricultural industry.

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Reporting by Alexandre Meneghini in Matanzas and Marianna Parraga in Houston; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Jonathan Oatis

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