Iran plans to increase gasoline imports by March 2015

(Reuters) – Iran aims to increase it gasoline imports by March 2015, a senior Iranian oil official said on Thursday, as the country has stopped using domestic petrochemical plants to produce the fuel.

Imports are a sensitive subject for energy-rich Iran as they have been a target for U.S. sanctions aimed at persuading Tehran to curb its nuclear activities.

“Iran’s fuel imports will surely increase this (Iranian) year,” said the senior official, who asked not to be named.

The Iranian year started on March 21.

He refused to reveal the amount but media reports suggest that the import of gasoline will be around 11 million litres per year.

Iran’s plan to increase imports follows an interim deal agreed in November with world powers under which Tehran has since shelved higher-grade uranium enrichment – a potential path to atomic bombs – and obtained modest relief from punitive sanctions in return. The interim accord went into effect on Jan. 20.

Iran has long denied accusations from Western powers and Israel that it sought to develop the capability to produce atomic weapons under the cover of its nuclear energy programme.

Iran lacks refining capacity – in part due to a lack of foreign investment – forcing it to import 40 percent of its domestic gasoline demand. The United States has imposed sanctions on foreign companies that help to supply fuel to Iran.

Alarmed over high pollution levels, Hassan Rouhani’s government has repeatedly said it wants to halt production of gasoline from petrochemical plants, which started in 2010. Experts say such gasoline creates more pollution than standard gasoline.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in early March that the Islamic state had plans to hike its gasoline imports, without revealing details, the Oil Ministry’s SHANA website reported.

Iran and major powers are seeking a final settlement by a July deadline under which the West wants Iran to significantly scale back its nuclear programme.

By Reuters


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