‘No request for foreign gas stations in Iran’

The National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) says it has received no request from Shell or Total to set up service stations in Iran, prompting confusion after an official said even licenses had been granted. 

The rebuttal by NIOPDC Managing Director Nasser Sajjadi on Sunday came after another Iranian official said earlier that the Anglo-Dutch and French oil majors had been allowed to open 200 gas stations across the country.

“So far, no request has been made by Total and Shell to build gas stations and no negotiation has taken place,” the IRNA news agency quoted Sajjadi as saying.

NIOPDC spokesman Davoud Arabali said companies have to get any license for gas stations from the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company, adding Shell and Total have not sought such a permit yet.

On Friday, head of Iran’s filling stations union Bijan Haj Mohammadreza said the licenses had been issued “recently” for Shell- and Total-branded service stations, marking the first venture by foreign firms into the country’s retail market.

NIOPDC aims to “create a brand in the oil products supply and distribution industry” by allowing foreign companies to own retail sites in Iran, the Mehr news agency quoted him as telling a group of reporters.

Haj Mohammadreza said talks had been held with a number of Iranian refiners to lease or sell their oil terminals and service stations to the foreign companies, Mehr added.

More than 15 million vehicles ply Iran’s roads.

Arabali said that “some institutions might have held negotiations with these foreign companies but even if they reached an agreement, they would have to submit their request to NIOPDC to issue a license”.

“If there is a request for building gas stations, it will be raised in NIOPDC’s board of directors and in case there is no legal restriction, it will be accepted,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

There are currently more than 3,200 gas stations in Iran, offering services to motorists in the country of 80 million people, according to figures provided by the local media.

More than 15 million vehicles ply the country’s roads and according to Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh, Iranians burn nearly 70 million liters of gasoline a day, of which five million liters is imported.

Fuel prices in Iran are among the cheapest in the world even after the government cancelled offering oil products at subsidized prices in May.

By Press TV