Reuters: Iran aims to end gasoline rationing by March 2009 through expanding domestic production of fuel and encouraging the use of vehicles powered by natural gas, an Iranian oil official said on Monday. TEHRAN, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Iran aims to end gasoline rationing by March 2009 through expanding domestic production of fuel and encouraging the use of vehicles powered by natural gas, an Iranian oil official said on Monday.
Iran, the world’s fourth-largest crude producer, introduced rationing in June to curb fuel consumption that was far outstripping domestic output and to reduce costly gasoline imports.
“Probably by the end of the coming Iranian year, rationing will end. We are trying to control consumption from one side and increase production from the other side,” Deputy Oil Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh told reporters at an energy conference.
The current Iranian year ends in March 2008 and the next one ends in March 2009. Nematzadeh said he was basing the timetable on an announcement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
As well as expanding Iran’s refining capacity, Nematzadeh said the government was seeking to introduce more cars that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and to set up more stations selling CNG, which car drivers using the fuel complain are now too few.
Nematzadeh said about 24 million litres per day of gasoline had been saved during the past six months. Before rationing began, consumption was around 75 million litres per day or more.
He said consumption could edge up again in the next year but the government was seeking to respond by boosting gasoline production.
He did not give any reasons for any rise in consumption but Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said the government was finalising a plan to increase the monthly fuel quota for private cars to 120 litres from later this month, up from 100 litres.
All gasoline in Iran — whether produced locally or imported — is sold at the heavily subsidised price of 1,000 rials (about 11 U.S. cents) a litre. This has created a drain on state coffers.
Importing gasoline is also a sensitive issue when the country is facing calls from the United States for more U.N. sanctions over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme. (Reporting by Fredrik Dahl, writing by Edmund Blair, editing by Anthony Barker)