(Bloomberg) -- A supertanker carrying Russia’s flagship Urals crude has arrived off the coast of Venezuela as Moscow looks for new buyers amid tightening sanctions and disruptions in the Red Sea. 

The Ligera is now near Amuay Bay, which is linked to a refinery run by state-owned company PDVSA, vessel-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg show. It collected at least 1.7 million barrels of Urals via ship-to-ship transfers off southern Greece last month before sailing to Venezuela. 

The tanker’s arrival marks the first observed shipment of Urals crude to the South American country in at least five years. Russia has typically looked to buyers in Asia in the face of Western sanctions over the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. 

Venezuela in the past has received foreign oil to help dilute its own crude, making it easier to export, though it’s not clear if that’s the reason behind the Ligera’s cargo.

The shipment also occurs as Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea — and retaliatory attacks on the militant group by the US and UK — upend traditional trade routes. Many vessels are avoiding the waterway to keep their crews and cargo safe, and buyers are sourcing supplies that don’t have to transit the region. 

Urals has previously been shipped to the Caribbean, primarily to Cuba, but that volume has been declining. Only two tankers sailed to Cuba last year, compared with six in 2022, ship-tracking data show. 

--With assistance from Julian Lee and Lucia Kassai.

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