Gov’t to Seek Extra $7 bln to Import Fuel

A04893126.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian government plans to ask parliament for an extra $7 billion budget to cover the growing price of fuel imports.

Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said the sum was needed to import gasoline during the Iranian year that ends on March 20, the Farhang-e Ashti daily reported on Tuesday.

In February the parliament authorized the Oil Ministry to import gasoline and gas oil for the equivalent of $3.2 billion in the fiscal year that started on March 21, 2008.

“Nozari said we will need $6.5 to $7 billion for the import of fuel in the second half of the year,” Ali Adianirad, spokesman for parliament’s Energy Commission, reported the minister as telling lawmakers on Monday.

“The minister said extra budget was needed because of the higher price of gasoline and gas oil in the world market,” the newspaper quoted the spokesman as saying.

Iran, which is the world’s fourth major oil producer, began gasoline rationing last year.

Under the rationing scheme, fuel has been sold at the heavily subsidized price of 1,000 rials (about 11 US cents) a liter. The government revised the system, starting from March, to let drivers buy fuel above their 120-liter-a-month quota at 4,000 rials a liter.

Officials had previously said both consumption and imports dropped after Iran launched the rationing to curb consumption, which had soared well beyond its ability to refine crude.

Despite being the world’s fourth largest oil producer, Iran depends on expensive imports as it lacks the refining capacity to meet the Iranian drivers’ lavish consumption in full.

Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, a deputy oil minister, said in August that fuel consumption was about 70 million liters a day.

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