August 18, 2010 / 6:09 PM / 10 years ago

Venezuela says it will still send gasoline to Iran

* Caracas says it sends 20,000 bpd to Tehran

* Sanctions target Iran’s oil trade and industry

CARACAS, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Venezuela will continue to supply Iran with gasoline despite sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic by the United States, European Union and others, Caracas’s ambassador to Tehran said on Wednesday.

A series of sanctions agreed since June over Iran’s disputed nuclear program target its oil trade and industry.

Iran is the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter, but has to import around 40 percent of its gasoline needs because it does not have enough domestic refining capacity.

“We are at the service of Iran and whenever Iran needs we will supply it with gasoline,” Venezuela’s ambassador, David Velasquez, told Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency, Venezuela’s state news agency AVN said in a statement.

“The ambassador said Caracas would not be breaking any U.S. laws by exporting gasoline to Iran,” AVN added.

President Hugo Chavez’s socialist government says it is sending Iran some 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline.

The new sanctions have thrown a spotlight on Tehran’s increasingly important ties to Caracas, but analysts say there is little chance Venezuela could increase gasoline shipments to meet Iranian demand. [ID:nN26217228]

Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA has suffered a series of outages in its refinery network since last year and has been forced to import oil products, despite the OPEC nation sitting on one of the world’s biggest reserves of crude. FACTBOX on Venezuela-Iran ties [ID:nN25343897] (Reporting by Marianna Parraga; writing by Daniel Wallis; editing by Jim Marshall)

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