Iran importing gasoline in big way
Tehran, September 8, 2011
Iran has been importing four to five cargoes of gasoline per month, with most of it supplied by China as the Islamic Republic finds ways to get around the US-led sanctions, three industry sources familiar with the matter said.
'For sure Iranians are importing gasoline from Asia, China namely,' one source said. 'Suppliers sell to traders on a free-on-board (FOB) basis and they know that the cargo will end up in Iran,' he added.
The purchases were on a barter basis, a second source said. 'Chinese are buying crude and sending back gasoline,' he added.
Iran's fuel trade has been hampered by West's sanctions as oil companies stop supplying fuel to the Islamic Republic, fearing US-led sanctions aimed Tehran's disputed nuclear programme, which it says is purely for energy purposes.
An official from the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said Iran has been importing gasoline but he declined to confirm the amounts or the barter system.
Washington wants to isolate Tehran over its nuclear programme, which it believes Iran is using to develop weapons and although there is no international ban against buying Iranian crude, sanctions make financing difficult.
Iran has trouble receiving billions of dollars of oil payments from its major customers such as India and South Korea as sanctions put a restrain on financial transactions.
After months of a payment row with India over a hefty $5 billion dollar oil bill, Iran said on Sunday that India has paid all of its oil debt. South Korea's accumulating debt, around $3.8 billion in August, could hit $5 billion by the end of the year, government sources said.
The volume of crude imports in the first seven months of 2011 rose almost half on the year. At nearly 560,000 barrels per day, the flow was about a quarter of Iran's crude exports and is worth some $20 billion a year.
China signed up to the United Nations sanctions when they took full effect in mid-2010, but refused to support measures that targeted Iran's oil and gas sector.-Reuters