Cheap pump prices are forcing Iran, the second-ranking OPEC member, to import refined oil products in ever-increasing quantities, an oil official was quoted as saying Wednesday.
"Since last March we have imported 820 million liters of petrol (gasoline) and we will import a further 400 million before next March," said Ali Aghababai, an official of the national oil products distribution company.
This record total of 1.2 billion liters in the current Iranian year 1379 compares with 700 million liters the year before, he said.
In the past seven months average daily petrol consumption stood at 42.6 million liters, nine percent up on the same period last year, he said, blaming the low price of fuel, which is heavily-subsidized in Iran.
Lead-free petrol currently costs just 350 rials (four US cents) a liter, compared with around 30 cents in the United States and up to $1.20 in western Europe.
Iranian authorities have been asking the population for years to consume less petrol and other oil products, without biting the bullet of raising prices.
Iran produces 3.7 million barrels of oil a day, more than any member of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) apart from Saudi Arabia but its refineries cannot meet domestic demand.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.