Iran Economy NewsIran says rise in oil stocks not due to...

Iran says rise in oil stocks not due to sanctions

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Reuters: An increase in Iran’s stocks of crude oil is a result of maintenance work at refineries at home and abroad rather than of international sanctions, a senior official was quoted as saying on Monday.

TEHRAN, Aug 16 (Reuters) – An increase in Iran’s stocks of crude oil is a result of maintenance work at refineries at home and abroad rather than of international sanctions, a senior official was quoted as saying on Monday.

A new wave of EU and U.S. sanctions agreed since June has specifically targeted Iran’s energy industry, making it harder for it to import refined products and to export crude.

But Iran’s OPEC governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi said a build up in Iranian crude stocks was unrelated to those measures.

“The world needs Iran’s crude and in the current situation there is no special or abnormal situation in the trend of country’s oil exports,” the semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Khatibi as saying.

Without giving detail on inventory levels, he said regular maintenance work had led to higher stocks and that would be temporary.

“These repairs take place annually and periodically but in the current situation, with the termination of the overhaul period, the level of crude stockpile in the Persian Gulf will gradually drop,” he said.

The international community has imposed sanctions on Iran in an attempt to curb nuclear activities, which some countries fear are aimed at making a bomb, something Tehran denies.

GASOLINE DEMAND DIPS

Sanctions also complicate sales of refined products to Iran, whose insufficient refining capacity means it needs to import gasoline.

Figures from industry sources and the Turkish government have shown the number of suppliers willing to sell gasoline to Iran has dwindled and that the Islamic Republic is having to pay higher prices.

Khatibi said that during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, demand for gasoline is lower compared to the high peak summer months.

“In my country people do not travel much during Ramadan, so when the demand is lower our imports are lower,” he told Reuters.

“And after Ramadan is over we will see an increase in demand again when the school and high schools reopen,” said Khatibi.

Looking forward, Khatibi belived there was a lot of “potencial” for Iran to produce gasoline domestically.

“We have a lot of projects that could increase the gasoline production of Iran if we need it, and even allow Iran could to to export gasoline,” said Khatibi, without giving further details.

Khatibi saw no problem in obtaining motor fuel.

“Even these sanctions did not create any obstacle for securing the country’s needed gasoline,” he said.

The Iranian authorities usually downplay the impact of sanctions on the economy and its nuclear programme.

“The sanctions are not new, and Iran has learned to turn the sanctions from being a threat to being an oppertunity,” said Khatibi.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the U.S. sanctions “pathetic” and described a U.N. resolution as being worth no more than a “used handkerchief”. (Writing by Ramin Mostafavi; Additional reporting by Amena Bakr in Duabi; Editing by Barbara Lewis)

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