May 16, 2011 | Kipp Report

Iran Earns $5m in Gasoline Exports, Says Agency

Iran exported a batch of domestically-produced gasoline in April to make good on its pledge of becoming a gasoline exporter, the semi-official Mehr new agency quoted an official saying on Sunday.

“In Farvardin (the Iranian month that ends on April 20) 6.1 thousand metric tons of gasoline were exported to other countries,” said Abbas Memarnejad, the head of Iran’s Customs administration.

He said the total value of the consignments in the period exceeded $5 million and formed 23 percent of Iran’s total exports.

Memarnejad did not say what countries the gasoline was exported to. However, last month foreign trade sources said Iran had struck a deal to sell gasoline to Iraq, but that the rare cargo did not mean the Islamic Republic was now free from its dependence on gasoline imports.

Iran launched an Oil Exchange earlier this month and put on sale a consignment of gasoline for export to show what it says is a newly-found self-sufficiency in the fuel.

The Oil Exchange launch came after a rush by the Islamic state in recent months to expand refining capacity to counter economic sanctions, which were tightened last year over the Islamic state’s controversial nuclear programme.

The world’s fifth-biggest crude oil exporter has long depended on imported gasoline for 30 to 40 percent of its consumption, but now says it has become a net exporter.

Some foreign analysts view this rapid transformation with scepticism and believe it would take years not months to build so much new refining capacity.

Iran’s claimed success in gasoline exports comes after the enforcement of a plan to suppress domestic demand for gasoline by cutting state subsidies. Consumption has fallen to around 55 million litres per day from around 63 million, oil ministry officials say.