Reuters: Iran needs an additional $6.5 billion to help pay for imports of gasoline and diesel fuel during the 2009-10 budget year, a senior Oil Ministry official said in remarks published on Tuesday. TEHRAN, Oct 6 (Reuters) – Iran needs an additional $6.5 billion to help pay for imports of gasoline and diesel fuel during the 2009-10 budget year, a senior Oil Ministry official said in remarks published on Tuesday.
Deputy Oil Minister in charge of planning, Ebrahim Radafzun, said the ministry was preparing a draft supplementary budget bill to be sent to the government during the current week, business daily Donya Eqtesad reported.
It said the supplementary budget bill — which it described as the biggest ever in Iran — would then be submitted to parliament.
Iran is the world's fifth-largest crude exporter but lacks sufficient refining capacity to meet its domestic gasoline needs, forcing Tehran to import large volumes of the transport fuel which it then sells at heavily subsidised prices locally.
"The $6.5 billion supplementary budget bill is intended to meet the shortage in the budget for the import of gasoline and diesel fuel for the entire current (Iranian) year," Radafzun was quoted as saying.
The daily did not give any figures for the total budget amount needed to cover imports of gasoline and diesel fuel during the Iranian budget year that ends next March.
More such imports could increase Tehran's vulnerability to potential U.S. sanctions to target fuel suppliers to the Islamic Republic over its disputed nuclear programme.
Iranian officials have repeatedly shrugged off the threat of any such sanctions measures.
"Because we were guessing that the United States would sanction the sale of gasoline to Iran we placed precautionary measures on our agenda," said a member of parliament's energy commission, Jahanbakhsh Amini.
"One of the measures we have taken is that we have entered into gasoline purchase contracts with exporting countries," he was quoted as saying by the Andishe-no daily.
Domestic gasoline consumption in Iran has risen about six percent per year, despite two years of rationing designed to cap consumption levels, a top official from the National Iranian Oil Company said in May.
Around 700,000 new cars are coming onto Iran's roads each year. Fuel demand in many countries are falling because of the global economic slowdown, but cheap gasoline means there is little incentive for Iranians to cut back on driving. (Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by William Hardy)