Iran General NewsIran sees fuel imports at $3.2 bln in 2008-09

Iran sees fuel imports at $3.2 bln in 2008-09

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Reuters: Iran’s government is predicting it will need about $3.2 billion for gasoline and petroleum imports in the budget for the Iranian year that starts in March, according to an Iranian media report published on Thursday. TEHRAN, Jan 24 (Reuters) – Iran’s government is predicting it will need about $3.2 billion for gasoline and petroleum imports in the budget for the Iranian year that starts in March, according to an Iranian media report published on Thursday.

The report by the official IRNA news agency did not give a comparison, but a senior official suggested in October imports would decline at least 20 percent during the current Iranian year to about $4 billion worth of gasoline.

The world’s fourth-largest oil producer lacks refining capacity and must therefore import large amounts of fuel, which it then sells at heavily subsidised prices. In a bid to curb soaring consumption, it introduced rationing in June.

The scheme, which sparked anger among Iranians when it was introduced, has cut average daily consumption by 22 percent to 59 million litres compared with the same period last year, the state oil refining and distribution firm said last month.

The monthly quota for private motorists was raised by 20 percent to 120 litres on Dec 22.

IRNA quoted Deputy Oil Minister Mohammad-Reza Nematzadeh as saying 30 trillion rials (about $3.2 billion) had been set aside for gasoline and petroleum imports in the government’s budget proposal for the year that starts on March 21.

The IRNA report was published in the Iran News daily. The government presented its budget proposal on Jan. 7.

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 burdened state coffers.

Importing gasoline is also a sensitive issue when Iran is facing Western pressure over its disputed nuclear programme.

India has been among Iran’s main suppliers, but company sources this month said Indian refiner Reliance quit selling fuel to Iran last year after French banks BNP Paribas and Calyon stopped offering credit on the deals.

The move by the banks was a sign that the U.S.-led campaign to isolate Tehran over its nuclear programme is making it more difficult to do business with the Islamic Republic.

Washington and other Western powers fear Iran’s nuclear activities are aimed at building nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity.

World powers agreed on Tuesday on the outlines of a third U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran, but diplomats said the draft did not contain the punitive economic measures that Washington had been pushing for. (Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by William Hardy)

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