March 8, 2010 | Press Release

FDD Welcomes Reports that Two Large Gasoline Suppliers to Iran Bow Out of Market

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Press Release March 8, 2010


Noah Chestnut 202-390-2251
[email protected]

Bill McCarthy
[email protected]

FDD Welcomes Reports that Two Large Gasoline Suppliers to Iran Bow Out of Market

Threat of gasoline sanctions exerting significant pressure on regime, but final legislation and strong presidential support still needed

Washington, D.C. (March 8, 2010) – The Foundation for Defense of Democracies today welcomed reports that two of the largest suppliers of gasoline to Iran, the Swiss-Dutch trading companies Vitol and Trafigura, have bowed out of the market. FDD has provided leading research and analysis in support of strong, broad-based sanctions, in particular gasoline sanctions, as part of a comprehensive strategy to end the Iranian regime's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“The decision by Vitol and Trafigura to join Glencore, BP, and Reliance Industries in ending their gasoline trade with Iran demonstrates that the mere threat of gasoline sanctions can change the calculus of Iran's major partners,” said FDD Executive Director Mark Dubowitz. “But, when dealing with the Iranian regime, there are no permanent victories, only permanent battles and these companies and others will resume trading unless the Obama Administration gives Congress the green light to pass gasoline sanctions legislation.”

“These sanctions would rock an already shaky system,” Dubowitz said. “Iranians who are fed up with theocracy are certainly not going to embrace it if President Obama declares gasoline sanctions the midwife of freedom and representative government. The regime has been blaming Washington for almost all of its failures since the 1979 revolution. Americans have become more popular in Iran precisely because the regime damns the U.S.”

“Now is the time for Mr. Obama to rally Americans and Europeans to the cause of gasoline sanctions in the name of Iranian democracy,” said Dubowitz. “If the regime manages to crush the Iranian opposition, we will have lost an enormous opportunity to bring some normality and hope to the Middle East. Gasoline sanctions could be too little too late to throttle the regime's nuclear aspirations. But we are fooling ourselves if we believe that what we've done so far will stop the Islamic Republic's quest for the bomb. Although it is a major producer of crude oil, Iran must import up to 40% of the gasoline it needs because it has failed to invest in the refinery capacity necessary to meet its domestic consumption.”

Both the House and the Senate have advanced legislation to impose sanctions on companies supplying gasoline to Iran and on the insurance, reinsurance, and shipping companies that facilitate this trade. On December 15, the House approved Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA) by a vote of 412-12. On Jan. 28, the full Senate approved the Dodd-Shelby Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (S.2799), which combines several pieces of sanctions legislation, including the Senate version of IRPSA. The House and Senate bills will be reconciled in conference committee.

Iran's remaining gasoline suppliers include the Dutch multinational Shell; the French energy company Total; Russia's LUKOIL; the state-owned Malaysian energy company Petronas; Kuwait's Independent Petroleum Group; and three Chinese companies: China's state-run Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp., ZhenHua Oil, and CNPC.

The threat of sanctions has caused numerous banks to stop underwriting gasoline sales to Iran, and two insurance companies, Munich Re and Allianz, have also exited the market, increasing the difficulties that Iran will have importing the 40% of gasoline it needs to meet domestic consumption.

FDD researches the energy companies that supply Iran with gasoline and has identified significant points of leverage that can be used to convince them to end their trade. It also conducts research on the insurance and reinsurance companies that facilitate gasoline sales to Iran.

For more information on FDD's Iran Energy Project, the companies involved in supplying Iran with gasoline, and ways to significantly reduce Iran's gasoline imports, please visit or contact Noah Chestnut at [email protected].

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a non-profit, non-partisan policy institute dedicated exclusively to promoting pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that drive terrorism. Founded shortly after the attacks of 9/11, FDD combines policy research, democracy and counterterrorism education, strategic communications, and investigative journalism in support of its mission. For more information, please visit




Iran Sanctions