A report published in the Iranian media says the country’s Oil Ministry will own shares in three refineries in Latin America region as part of efforts to diversify and increase Iranian crude oil exports despite American sanctions targeting the industry.

A Monday report by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said that Oil Minister Javad Owji had signed major energy deals with authorities in Venezuela and Nicaragua during his recent visits to the two countries.

The report said agreements signed with Venezuelan energy authorities stipulate that Iran will supply its heavy crude grades to two refineries in Venezuela in addition to providing equipment and technical services to the refineries in return for owning shares in the facilities.

A report by Reuters news agency last week showed that Iranian state-run oil companies had started preparations to revamp Venezuela’s largest oil refinery, the 955,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Paraguana Refining Center.

That came after an Iranian Oil Ministry subsidiary company signed a 110 million-euro ($116 million) contract to repair and expand Venezuela’s smallest refinery, the 146,000-bpd El Palito.

Iran has expanded its energy ties with Venezuela in recent years as the two countries have been looking for ways to get round the American sanctions on their oil industries.

Iran has provided vital shipments of fuel and crude oil to Venezuela in addition to supplies of parts needed to repair and update Venezuela’s refining network.

The Fars report said that Iran will also partner with Venezuela in construction works at an unfinished refinery in Nicaragua in return for owning shares in the 100,000-bpd facility

Owji had said following his visit to the Latin America region earlier this month that owning shares in refineries in the region will give Iran a major market for its crude shipments while the country will be able to increase its sales of petroleum products in the region.

Source » presstv