Bloomberg: Iran stopped making gasoline at petrochemical plants after the government’s reduction in fuel subsidies last month caused prices to quadruple and consumption to fall, an official at Iran’s National Petrochemical Co. said.
By Ladane Nasseri
Iran stopped making gasoline at petrochemical plants after the government’s reduction in fuel subsidies last month caused prices to quadruple and consumption to fall, an official at Iran’s National Petrochemical Co. said.
Iran produced gasoline at six petrochemical facilities under an emergency plan to help counter U.S. sanctions on fuel supplies, the official said in a telephone interview in Tehran, declining to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media. The country halted the production on Jan. 21, the official said.
The United Nations has imposed four rounds of economic sanctions on Iran because it refuses to curtail its nuclear energy program, which the U.S. and European Union believe conceals an effort to develop weapons. The Iranian government maintains it wants nuclear energy solely for civilian purposes such as generating power.
The U.S. tightened its own sanctions against Iran on July 1 to target foreign suppliers of gasoline. The Gulf nation had previously relied on imports for about 40 percent of its gasoline needs, due to a shortage of refining capacity. The government responded to the American restrictions by producing gasoline in chemical plants.
Over the past five months, Iran produced 17 million liters (4.5 million gallons) of gasoline a day at the petrochemical complexes, the state-run news agency Mehr reported on Jan. 22.
Oil Minister Masoud Mir-Kazemi said in a Jan. 16 news conference that Iran’s gasoline reserves had “reached a peak.” He noted that demand for gasoline had eased after the government cut fuel subsidies on Dec. 19. This decline, together with the expected completion of refinery projects in coming months, meant the country would no longer have to make gasoline in petrochemical plants as a stop-gap solution.
Iran’s gasoline consumption stood at about 61 million liters before the government raised fuel prices. It has dropped since then to as low as 53 million liters, Mir-Kazemi told reporters at the Jan. 16 conference in Tehran. He didn’t specify a timeframe for the consumption figures.
Iranians now pay 4,000 rials (40 cents) a liter of gasoline for up to 50 liters a month, and 7,000 rials a liter for larger quantities. Until fuel subsidies were cut, people paid a subsidized price of 1,000 rials a liter for a monthly maximum of 60 liters.
Iranian officials say the success of the emergency program for manufacturing gasoline shows that the country is self- reliant and can thwart “enemies’ plots.”
Local media reports late last year linked an increase in air pollution in the capital to the country’s hasty production of lower-quality gasoline. Mir-Kazemi rejected the claim, saying it had been fabricated by foreign news organizations in response to the failure of Iran’s adversaries to pressure it with the gasoline embargo.