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. Iran boasts can hike petrol output if US levies sanction
TEHRAN, Nov 17 (AFP) Nov 17, 2009
Iranian Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi on Tuesday announced the launch of an emergency petrol production plan in a bid to dodge possible US sanctions on fuel imports by the Islamic republic.

The plan will see Iran's petrol production capacity increasing by 14 million litres per day with immediate effect, significantly boosting the present daily output of 44.5 million litres.

"This symbolic move... is to show that they (Western powers) cannot use this (petrol) as a leverage against the Islamic republic," Mirkazemi told reporters as he announced the plan through a live video conference.

For months, US lawmakers have pushed legislation targeting firms that provide fuel to Iran, or otherwise invest in Tehran's energy sector, as a way to break its defiance in continuing its controversial nuclear programme.

Mirkazemi stressed that Iran has "no problem with buying and the supply of petrol... we have now even more suppliers who have come forward to sell petrol to us."

He said that the plan is a "manoeuvre that could continue for a few days."

Iran currently imports around 22 million litres per day to cover its domestic consumption of petrol.

Iran will produce the extra petrol at Bandar Imam, Bouali Sina and Borzouieh Petrochemical complexes near the Gulf.

"Thus our production capacity, if necessary, can reach 58.5 million litres per day," Mirkazemi said.

He however pointed out that the production would be costlier by 30 to 60 dollars per tonne than international prices.

Oil-rich Iran, OPEC's second largest oil exporter, is dependent on petrol imports to meet about 40 percent of domestic consumption due to shortage of refining capacity.

The six world powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany -- are pushing Iran to sign on a UN-mediated nuclear plan which aims at ending the atomic standoff.

World powers have threatened to impose sanctions on Iran if it fails to address the nuclear issue as they suspect Tehran plans to make atomic weapons. Iran denies the charge.

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