Two gas stations were torched early Wednesday in Tehran as angry Iranians protested fuel rationing measures enforced by the government, while many other Iranians lined up to fill their tanks.
The rationing was announced late Tuesday by the Oil Ministry. The measure sparked long lines at stations as Iranians tried to get one last fill-up before the limitations came into effect.
"The government, by being completely committed to implementing the law, will exert all its efforts to decrease any possible limitations for people," state television quoted the ministry as saying.
It said private cars, which cannot also burn compressed natural gas, would get 100 liters of gasoline per month. Some cars in Iran can burn both types of fuel and those vehicles would receive a smaller gasoline ration.
For the time being, private drivers would be able to buy their daily allocation up to four months in advance, it said, adding that this period could later be extended to six months.
State radio reported early Wednesday that several stations were attacked "by vandals." State-run television also said some of the vandals were arrested.
There were other reports that gas stations in several cities across the country were also in flames.
People were still forming lines at gas stations on Wednesday, though lines had shortened compared to the previous evening.
Iran is the second biggest exporter in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. But because it has low refining capability, it has to import more than 50 percent of its gasoline needs. To keep prices low, the government subsidized gas sales. The imports are a big burden on state coffers because all fuel, whether imported or domestically produced is sold at heavily subsidised prices.
The government had been planning for weeks to implement rationing, which was supposed to start May 21 but was repeatedly put off. In May, the government cut subsidies for gas, causing a 25 percent hike in the price. Still, fuel sells at just 1,000 rials (11 U.S. cents) a liter, among the lowest prices available in the world, Alalam TV reported.
Under the rationing plan, owners of private cars can buy 26 gallons of fuel per month at the subsidized price of 38 cents per gallon. Taxis can get 211 gallons a month at the subsidized price.