Iran stops petrol importing

TEHRAN (AFP) - Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi said on Saturday that Iran had now stopped importing petrol, a commodity targeted by world powers in new sanctions against Tehrans controversial nuclear drive. No purchase has been made of petrol since last month, Mirkazemi was quoted by Mehr news agency as saying. It reported him as saying Irans daily petrol production had reached 66.5 million litres per day, more than the national requirement of 64 million litres. On September 7, Mirkazemi said that Iran had now reached self-sufficiency in petrol production, adding that previously it produced 44 million litres a day and imported 20 million litres in order to meet domestic need. On Saturday, Mirkazemi said any new imports of petrol would help to boost the countrys domestic reserves. Iran recently launched an emergency plan aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in petrol production by the end of the current Iranian year to March 20, 2011. Prior to that, Tehran said its target was to meet its own refined fuel needs by 2012. Iran, which is the second-largest oil producer in the OPEC oil cartel and holds around 10 percent of world oil reserves, has been highly dependent on petrol imports because its lack of refining capacity. Imported petrol was targeted in the latest round of sanctions imposed on Iran by world powers over its programme of uranium enrichment, which world powers fear is cover for a nuclear weapons project, a charge Tehran denies. Ahead of the June sanctions imposed by UN Security Council, several Western companies including Total, Shell, and Vitol stopped supplying petrol to the Islamic republic. Since then, Iran has relied on Turkish and Chinese companies to meet its daily domestic demand of 64 million litres of petrol, and Russia has also said it is ready to supply fuel to the energy-hungry country.

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