Iran unveils new plan to counter fuel sanctions
Iran's Oil Minister Masoud Mir-Kazemi has unveiled a plan to counter possible fuel sanctions against the oil-rich country, Press TV reported.
According to the plan, the Iranian petrochemical plants, such as Imam Khomeini, Bou Ali Sina and Borzouyeh, are equipped to produce about 14 million liters of gasoline per day if they have to.
Iran, OPEC's second largest oil exporter, only produces 60 percent of its domestic gasoline demand and imports the remaining 40 percent.
In October, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee passed legislation that would toughen sanctions on Iran over its nuclear work.
The bill known as the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act gives US President Barack Obama more power to ban companies providing Iran with gasoline, diesel and other refined petroleum fuels.
Iran could defuse any embargo targeting its fuel imports by maximizing production capacities of the petrochemical plants, although the measure is not economically viable, Mir-Kazemi said.
"The cost of gasoline production in petrochemical plants is 30 to 60 dollars higher per ton compared to imported gasoline," the Mehr news agency quoted Mir-Kazemi as saying.
He said that the Iranian refineries produce 45 million liters of gasoline per day whereas the daily consumption is about 60 million liters.
Mir-Kazemi noted that, should the need arise, domestic petrochemical plants can increase the gasoline output of Iran by 14 million liters to near 60 million liters per day.
The minister noted that Iran's gasoline inventory rose and could meet the domestic consumption for 70 days.
The comments heralded plans to reduce the monthly quota of subsidized gasoline for private motorists by 20 percent in the coming winter.
"The gasoline quota of private motorists has been set at 80 liters per month beginning from the month of Dey (December 22, 2009)," said Ali Rabiee, a deputy head of Iran's fuel management organization earlier in the week.
In the beginning of the current Iranian year (March 2009), Iran reduced the quota of private motorists from 120 liters per month to the current 100 liters.
According to Iran's budget bill, the gasoline produced domestically must be sold at the price of 1,000 rials (10 cents) per liter while imported gasoline must be offered to motorists at a price of 4,000 rials.
The new measure is expected to cut consumption as Iran is on the brink of fresh US sanctions which proscribe gasoline sales to Tehran.