Iran dismisses US plans for gasoline ban

The Iranian government, repeating earlier comments, has dismissed suggestions that the US Congress impose a gasoline embargo as a means of exerting pressure on the Middle Eastern country to end its controversial nuclear program.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 10 – The Iranian government, repeating earlier comments, has dismissed suggestions that the US Congress impose a gasoline embargo as a means of exerting pressure on the Middle Eastern country to end its controversial nuclear program.

Iran's OPEC governor Mohammad Ali Khataibi said his country is too important a market for foreign suppliers to ban gasoline exports. He also said such a ban would cause world prices to fall by creating an oversupply.

Khataibi's comments apparently were in response to reports that Washington is talking with allies and Congress about the possibility of cutting off Iran’s imports of gasoline and other refined oil products.

The threat is being considered if Iran fails to respond to President Barack Obama's offer to negotiate on its nuclear program by the opening of the United Nations session in mid-September.

In October 2008, Obama suggested imposing restrictions on Iranian gasoline imports. Iran produces 4.2 million b/d of oil, but it imports about one-third of its gasoline due to a lack of refining capacity.

Khataibi’s dismissal of the threat echoes earlier remarks by other Iranian officials, most of them insisting that their country could evade the proposed ban in one way or another.

An analyst comments
Analyst IHS Global Insight said that gasoline import sanctions are unlikely to isolate Iran completely as smuggling from its neighbors will “surely take off.” But it also said that “the vast market would feel the pinch with potentially damaging political fall-out domestically.”

Global Insight said Iran's gasoline imports are set to remain steady over August, changing little from the 256,000 b/d imported during July, as inventories are built up ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.

“Iran has already contracted deliveries of 128,000 b/d on average, with the contracting of a number of additional cargoes likely,” Global Insight said, citing the Singapore traders.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

More in General Interest