In 2017, the United States enacted a “maximum pressure” sanction campaign designed to financially isolate Venezuela, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his authoritarian regime, according to the Center for a New American Security.1

Prior to the sanctions on state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. and others associated with the oil industry, Venezuela exported 1.3 million barrels of oil per day (bpd)2 and had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $98.4 billion.3 In 2021, Venezuelan exports fell to 700,000 bpd,4 and the country’s GDP plummeted to $42.53 billion.3 The New Yorker reports Maduro’s government is strapped for cash and Venezuelan citizens face shortages of food, medicine and other necessities.5

Bypassing U.S. sanctions to export oil from Venezuela has been accomplished with vessels owned or operated by international facilitators, including Cuba, Cyprus, Iran, the People’s Republic of China and Russia. To avoid detection, vessels engage in “dark” activity: turning off the oil tankers’ Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders, sailing slowly and engaging in ship-to-ship transfers, among other actions.

For this edition of Maxar Spotlight, we examined Venezuela’s multifaceted maritime activities and economic relationships. Our experts used Maxar Crow’s Nest Maritime Monitoring and Security solution, Vivid basemap and comprehensive analytic reports to identify and track oil tankers, provide contextual mapping layers and deliver insight by harnessing the collective power of proprietary and open-source information.

Read the full periodical to gain a better understanding of how Maxar’s Earth Intelligence capabilities reveal patterns of life and insights to predict, mitigate and resolve crisis and conflict.

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Sneak peek: excerpt from Maxar Spotlight, Vol. 31

Crow’s Nest tipped on three tankers docked at a fueling station during the data-collection period. The imagery below was collected May 10, 2021; on that date, all three vessels were dark. The Venezuelan tanker Yare was seen at the lower station on May 13 and June 14, and the Venezuelan tanker Paramaconi pinged at the lower station on May 15. Chinese vessel Thousand Sunny pinged at the upper left station on June 14 and June 18. No AIS was detected for the vessel at the upper right station at any time during the collection period of April 19-June 21, 2021.

1Sanctions by the Numbers: Spotlight on Venezuela

2Desperate for fuel, Venezuelans steal PDVSA crude and make their own gasoline

3Venezuela: Gross domestic product (GDP) in current prices from 1984 to 2022

4Venezuela’s oil exports stabilize at 700,000 bpd after stock drain -data

5Venezuela’s food crisis reaches a breaking point

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