TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran is not having any problems procuring gasoline, a top official said on Monday, despite sanctions by the United States and European Union targetting refined petroleum imports.
“The adoption of sanctions have not created any obstacles for the country in procuring gasoline,” Mohammad Ali Khatibi, Iran’s envoy to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), told Mehr news agency.
The US and EU sanctions imposed on Iran for pursuing sensitive nuclear work specifically target the energy sector, especially US measures to choke off imports of refined petroleum products like gasoline and jet fuel.
Despite being OPEC’s second largest oil exporter, Iran depends heavily on gasoline imports due to limited refining capacity of its own.
Iran imports nearly one-third of its annual gasoline needs.
To combat sanctions, Iranian officials have been advocating consumption cuts on gasoline and building new refineries.
Last month, Deputy Oil Minister Alireza Zeighami said Iran was investing 26 billion dollars on new refineries by the end of the current development plan to 2014.
Meanwhile, David Velasquez Caraballo, the Venezuelan envoy to Tehran, said his country “would provide the required gasoline” to Iran as and when it demands, Fars news agency reported.
Ties between Iran and Venezuela have flourished under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with Caracas publicly backing Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme.
In September 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared on a visit to Iran that his country would supply Tehran with 20,000 barrels of gasoline a day from October in a deal worth 800 million dollars.
Iran is also under four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for its defiant pursuit of a nuclear programme which world powers suspect is masking a weapons drive.
Tehran insists its atomic work has no military aims.