( Fars News Agency) - Iran's Oil Ministry will provide funds to import up to 15 million liters of gasoline a day, an Iranian oil official said on Sunday, less than half the amount the OPEC state shipped in before fuel rationing began in June.
Although Iran, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is the world's fourth-largest crude oil exporter, it lacks refining capacity to meet domestic demand for gasoline. Rationing was introduced in an effort to curb consumption and cut the rising cost of importing fuel.
"The Oil Ministry has issued temporary permission to import 14 million to 15 million liters of gasoline per day," Deputy Oil Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh told FNA.
The report said the budget for the year to March for fuel imports, which parliament set at $2.5 billion, had already been spent but parliament has not approved additional funds for the rest of the year.
"NIOC will provide the necessary currency until the additional budget for the rest of the year is settled," Nematzadeh said, referring to the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), which controls the country's oil industry.
Before rationing was imposed Iranian drivers were guzzling 75 million liters or more a day of gasoline, of which about 36 million was imported. Since June, consumption has dropped to a little more than 60 million liters a day, officials have said.
The gasoline, whether imported from outside or produced at home, is sold at the heavily subsidize price of 1,000 rials (about 11 US cents) a liter to Iranian motorists, leading to a mounting bill in the budget.
Iran spent about $5 billion or more on importing gasoline last year. An Iranian oil official said earlier this month Iran had already saved $1 billion since rationing started as a result of the fall in consumption.