Monday, September 12, 2005

Iran & Venezuela to send oil, US to reciprocate with vinegar

Much to the chagrin of Preznit Dubya and Deputy Minister of Theocracy, Pat Robertson, Axis of Evil mainstay Iran and second understudy Venezuela have offered to send millions of barrels of oil to the US in an effort to soften the impact of the intentional decrease in refining by major oil companies Hurricane Katrina.

In a statement issued yesterday, Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuela's ambassador to Washington, spelled out the amounts and timing of the shipments: In the coming month, the state-owned oil company will deliver nearly 1 million barrels of gasoline, in addition to the 1.2 million scheduled, to Citgo Petroleum Corp., the U.S. refining and distribution firm that Venezuela bought in 1990. The fuel will be taken from storage and diverted from other customers.

"Venezuela is privileged to be able to help the United States in this time of need," Alvarez said. "We see ourselves as a compassionate people and hope that our efforts will help cope with current market needs of the U.S. for gasoline, and provide some immediate relief to the victims of this horrific natural disaster."

Although the gasoline will be sold on the open market rather than donated, it could help ease the near-term shortage that sent gas prices soaring after the storm knocked out refineries in the central Gulf Coast. Other countries, mostly tight U.S. allies in Europe and Asia, have also said they will release gasoline from reserves, but as Alvarez's statement noted, shipping times from Venezuela are only four to five days, so his country's cargoes "will be able to met U.S. needs that much sooner." [WaPo]

Iran, for its part, has stated that if the US waives trade sanctions it will ship 20 M barrels of crude oil to reciprocate for US generosity after a 2003 earthquake that devastated the Iranian city of Bam. Officials in the US have yet to respond to this offer or an earlier offer to send relief supplies to the American Red Cross.

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