Oil smuggling costs Iran 'billions of dollars'

Iran loses more than a billion dollars a year because petrol and refined oil products are smuggled to neighbouring countries, a senior police official was quoted as saying on Monday.

“Every year, 1,8-billion litres of refined oil products worth 10,8-billion rials [$1,18-billion] are smuggled abroad,” press reports quoted General Ali Soltani, director of the campaign against economic crimes, as saying.

“Last year we seized more than 50-million litres of oil products, which is equal to only 10 days of the trafficked amount,” he said, adding that some five million litres of oil products—mainly petrol—were smuggled every day to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey.

The world’s fourth-largest crude producer, Iran suffers a chronic shortage of petrol and imports a significant amount of its increasing domestic needs.

Iranians use 72-million litres of petrol daily on average, although the country’s refineries can produce only 42-million litres.

Pump prices are 800 rials a litre ($0,09), while one litre fetches more than one dollar in neighbouring states.

The government has decided to introduce rationing and dual-pricing of petrol in order to control consumption and smuggling.

This year Iran will spend an extra $5-billion importing petrol and other refined petroleum products.

Under the new measures, private cars and taxis would daily receive three litres and 30 litres respectively at a subsidised price, the head of the parliamentary energy commission, Kamal Daneshyar, said.

These figures have not yet been confirmed by the government.

“We have made a proposal to the government, which must soon make a decision,” said Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, head of the Iranian Refining and Oil Derivative Distribution Company.—AFP

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