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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