Ahmadinejad says Iran looking to be major fuel exporter

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Iran hopes to become a major exporter of vehicle fuels with the opening of more plants after it moved from dependence on imports to self-sufficiency, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a state news agency on Tuesday.

Iran has been forced to increase its refining capacity over the past few years due to Western efforts to prevent it from importing fuel as part of wide-ranging sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear activities.

Refinery capacity expansions and government efforts to curb fuel use have slashed Iran’s imports over the last three years. Around 1.8 million liters a day of additional gasoline production capacity from the Lavan oil refinery, starting this week, should reduce imports further.

“Now we have no need for imports of any petroleum products. Through exploiting the Persian Gulf Star refinery in Bandar Abbas and other development projects we will become a big fuel exporter,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by state agency IRNA.

“In the past the oil industry was completely dependent and all equipment was imported. Study, exploration and development was also in the hands of others,” he said, marking the inauguration of the upgraded refinery.

According to a report last week by oil ministry news service Shana, the Lavan refinery was able to produce around one million liters a day of gasoline before the expansion.

Further upgrade work at the refinery will also boost its diesel capacity from 1.7m to 4m liters, Shana reported, without giving a timeline for when the extra capacity would be ready.

Iran has rationed gasoline for private motorists since December 2010. Shana said in March that average daily gasoline consumption in Iran averaged around 63m liters.

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