The Oil Tanker ‘Ocean Mariner’ Arrived in Cuba With 100,000 Barrels of Mexican Fuel

A pilot boat guided the ship through the bay to the Ñico López refinery, where it cast anchor. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 August 2023 — The oil tanker Ocean Mariner, which sails with the flag of Liberia, arrived this Friday in the bay of Havana from the Mexican port of Pajaritos, in Veracruz. Although the petrochemical complex from which the tanker sailed denied having data about the cargo, one of its workers told 14ymedio that it is traveling with 100,000 barrels of fuel to be delivered to the Island.

This newspaper was present in the port of Havana during the arrival of the ship, at 7:30 p.m. this Friday. A pilot boat guided the ship through the bay to the Ñico López refinery, where it anchored.

“The ship carries less than a third of what was sent in the Delsa,” said the Pajaritos operator, alluding to the Cuban-flagged tanker that unloaded 350,000 barrels of crude oil last June in the Cuban capital, an operation that was denounced as “fraudulent” by Mexican journalist Gerardo Aburto. The cargo of the Ocean Mariner is “diesel or gasoline,” according to the worker.

The information about the shipments of the state monopoly Pemex to the Island, he concludes, is strictly controlled by the Secretariat of the Navy, which responds directly to the Government of the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. As already happened with the Delsa’s trip, the Mexican authorities have kept secret any information about the route or the contents of the tanker.

On June 17, Aburto accused the Mexican Executive of “giving crude oil to the oppressive government of Cuba” and diverting state resources. Two months later, in August, the British Reuters agency revealed that López Obrador had sent up to two million barrels of oil to Havana – 13,000 barrels per day (bpd) – in the last four months, a figure that places the Aztec country in second place on Havana’s list of oil partners, between Venezuela and Russia.

Mexico usually supplies Olmeca light crude oil, according to Reuters, a variety that “adapts to Cuba’s ancient refineries better than Venezuela’s heavy oil.” Most of the shipments arrive on the Vilma and Delsa ships, both with the Cuban flag and not sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury.

Since July, according to Reuters, the Vilma, previously used to transport Venezuelan crude oil to the Island, has made two trips from the Pajaritos terminal, in Veracruz, to the Cienfuegos and Havana refineries. From the same port of Veracruz and also to Cienfuegos, the Delsa arrived with oil in June, before continuing on to Venezuela, where, according to the British agency, it also took on crude oil.

The article mentions that other Cuban ships have been repaired or inspected in recent years at a shipyard in Veracruz, like the Esperanza, currently there and included on the U.S. blacklist. In summary, as the Reuters text headlines, the Island’s oil tankers are “regular visitors” to Mexican ports.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


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