LONDON Oct 31 Iran and Syria have arranged a
gasoline-for-diesel swap, helping each other overcome
international sanctions that have cut them off from fuel
supplies needed to keep their economies afloat and support their
Tracking data shows that a tanker from Iran arrived in Syria
with a cargo of fuel, and a shipper who works in the region said
Iran was delivering diesel to Syria in return for gasoline.
U.S. and European Union sanctions have virtually ground
Syria's trade in oil and refined products to a halt, while Iran
is struggling to sell its crude as buyers around the world cut
Syria's economy has been strangled by a lack of diesel
needed to power heavy vehicles and machinery used in industries
Iran's rial faced collapse earlier this month in a sign that
economic pressure on the government is building and that oil
sales to some of its best customers are in decline.
An Iranian oil tanker called the Hillari arrived in the port
of Banias a week ago and delivered a 34,500 tonne cargo of
gasoil, an industry term for diesel, the shipper said and
tracking data showed.
The vessel has now finished loading a similarly sized cargo
of gasoline at the Syrian port, the shipper said, and is likely
to be bound for Iran, where it will complete another round trip
between the two countries with precious supplies of fuel.
While both countries are oil exporters, they lack the
capacity to refine certain types of fuel. Syria's light crude
means it produces more gasoline and naphtha than it needs,
freeing up volumes for export.
Iran's sour crude by contrast, is easily refined into
heavier fuels such as diesel, leaving it short of gasoline to
run vehicles. As a result, the countries are perfectly matched
to swap fuels.
A similar trade occurred over the summer, when the same
tanker, operating with a different name, arrived in Syria at the
end of June and departed in early July to complete an exchange
The vessel in April made at least one other round trip
between Syria and Iran after tighter Western sanctions cut off a
stream of Russian deliveries to Syria.
(editing by Jane Baird)