Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 4 / Trend T. Konyayeva /
Despite statements by official Tehran to start petrol export, produced in the country, experts said that Iran still lacks sufficient capacity for this.
"Iran is still suffering from a serious problem in petrol and other oil products production, Vladimir Evseev, director of the Center for Social and Political Studies, told Trend over phone from Moscow. I do not believe that Iran can solve this problem up to now. Several years are required to build new and modernize existing plants.
Iran spoke about the export of the first batch of petrol produced at local refineries, SHANA agency said with reference to the Director of the Department of International Affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (INOC), Ali Asghar Arshi.
He said that the volume of petrol production allowed Iran to achieve self-sufficiency in this sector. New export supplies will be implemented. In this case, Arshi did not specify the amount of oil products, sent for export, as well as the name of the buyer.
Evseev said that the other side of the problem is that it is smuggled to neighboring countries, particularly to Turkey, because of cheap price for petrol in Iran (the cost of petrol in the country is about 10 cents).
"It is impossible to talk about self-sufficiency of Iran in providing with oil products till capacity is commissioned and the volumes of contraband are reduced," he said.
Evseev said that apparently, statements about the beginning of petrol export - the next PR-action of Iran. But the resale of fuel is not ruled out.
"On the one hand, Iran seeks to prove that it is self-sufficient, but on the other hand, perhaps, it does deal with its own petrol production but the implementation of the scheme of so-called swap," he said.
But, nevertheless, all the statements of Iran's self-sufficiency is a bluff, he said.
Trend Expert Council's member, professor Reza Taghizadeh does not believe that Iran has managed to increase its refining capacities necessary for petrol production for export.
"Iran has never been a ( legal ) gasolin exporter, although because of their cheaper prices, fuel has been ans still is being smuggled abroad. In order to increase its gasoline production by 40 percent of its current capacity, Iran needs billions of dollars of investment on refineries, Taghizadeh told Trend via e-mail.
Iran needs $ 46.5 billion to build new refineries and increase production of oil products.
So far, Iran invested $8.2 billion in this sector within the fourth program of development. Over $6.3 billion was required to maintain and expand existing production. Over $2.1 billion was invested up to now.
Today, the refinery in Bandar Abbas (21 percent of all petrol produced in the country), oil refinery in Abadan (20,2 percent), Isfahan (18,2 percent), Tehran (15 percent), Arak (10,4 percent), Tabriz (6,2 percent), Shiraz (3.8 percent), Lavan (2,4 percent) and Kermanshah (1,7 percent) produce petrol in Iran.
Earlier, Iranian Oil Minister Seyyed Masud Mir-Kazemi said in July that Iran plans to put into operation several oil refineries by late 2010 and become one of the largest exporters of petrol in the region and the world within two or three years. In early September, Mir-Kazemi said that the production of petrol at Iranian refineries increased by 66.5 million liters per day. It covers the country's needs for this fuel.
The old refineries work with the same capacities as before and turning petrochemical plants/factories into new refineries and producing fuel for cars besides the fact that would be very expensive process is not efficient enough, Taghizadeh said.
"Such fuel produced this way would be more expensive than the imported fuel and because it wont be the same as the fuel produced in refineries would damage the cars if they used them," he said.
If the same amount of Iran's daily need for fuel kept (65 million litters perday ) Iran still needs 22 to 25 million litters of gasoline imported, he said.
Iran consumes about 65 million liters of petrol daily. Iran is forced to daily import roughly 21 million liters of fuel from abroad (mostly from European countries) given that the domestic companies produced more than 44 million liters of petrol a day till the latest official statements. Despite Iran is the world's fifth largest exporter of crude oil, petrol still heads the list of essential imported goods. However, according to Iranian officials, the volume of petrol increased by more than 66 million liters per day for the last month as a result of the work carried out at the refinery.
"The only way to make the home production of gasoline balanced with the daily consumption is to reduce the consumption by 40 percent. Increased prices and abandoning the fuel suncidies may do the trick for the Iranian government", he said.
The UN Security Council adopted the resolution 1929 imposing new international sanctions against Iran proposed by the United States on June 9. Then additional unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic were declared by the U.S. administration. Foreign ministers of the EU countries approved a package of unilateral anti-Iran measures on July 26, including the decision to reduce exports of petrol to Iran.
French oil and gas group Total became the last Western company, which halted deliveries of oil products, particularly petrol, to Iran after the United States imposed unilateral sanctions against that country. Earlier deliveries of petrol to Iran were halted by Anglo-Dutch concern Royal Dutch Shell PLC, British Petroleum, Dutch-Swiss traders Vitol Holding BV and Trafigura Beheer BV, Swiss commodities trader Glencore International AG, as well as Russian Lukoil, Malaysian state-owned Petroliam Nasional Bhd ( Petronas).