Iran sees no risk to gasoline imports, official says

June 29, 2010

By Ramin Mostafavi

TEHRAN, June 29 (Reuters) - Iran sees no risks to its gasoline imports, an oil official said on Tuesday, a day after France’s Total TOTA.PA joined the list of Western oil companies stopping sales to Iran due to sanctions.

The head of the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company told the oil ministry website SHANA that consumption was declining, helping trim Iran’s reliance on gasoline imports.

“Under any conditions we are able to supply the country’s gasoline needs and there is no problem in producing or importing gasoline,” said Farid Ameri, sharing the optimism of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has dismissed the sanctions threat.

The world’s fifth-largest oil producer lacks sufficient refining capacity and imports up to 40 percent of its gasoline needs — making it potentially vulnerable to sanctions which the West is pushing to squeeze Iran over its nuclear programme.

Ahmadinejad said on Monday Iran could become self-sufficient in gasoline “within one week” if necessary. [ID:nDAH850806]

As well as attempting to increase domestic refinery output, Iran is trying to reduce demand — a policy that will be intensified later this year when a major phase-out of government subsidies begins. [ID:nHAF640673]

Last week, the U.S. Congress approved unilateral measures that went far beyond the latest wave of U.N. sanctions — including penalties for companies supplying Iran with gasoline. [ID:nN24148251]

Iran says its uranium enrichment programme is entirely peaceful and that it is not seeking a nuclear bomb.

Ameri said average daily gasoline consumption in the first three months of this year was 62.8 million litres (13.81 million Imp gallons), down from 64.4 million year-on-year. Average daily domestic production was 44.6 million litres, he said.

Ameri also said Iran‘s stocks of gasoline were up 500 million litres in the period March 21 to June 2, compared with the same period a year ago. He did not disclose Iran’s total stock levels.

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