About 20% of Iran’s Fuel Output Smuggled Abroad: Gov’t Report

Almost a fifth of the daily production of gasoline in Iran goes to smugglers who ship the fuel to the neighboring countries, according to a new government report published Tuesday. 

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The report, published by the Fars news agency cited data from Iran’s Plan and Budget Organization, showed that fuel smuggling from the country reached an average of 22 million liters a day until March 2019.

It also cited findings of another analysis showing that smugglers were making US$0.4 to US$1.25 on each liter of gasoline sold illegally across borders. The amount of fuel smuggled between March and August 2018 in only one border province presented a five-fold increase compared to the similar period in 2017.

These findings come after Iran decided to increase the price of gasoline by at least 50 percent and impose rationing on the regular delivery of fuel to motorists. The ruling sparked protests on the streets which have caused deaths and material damage.

Early estimates of a government intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters have taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night. A large number of protesters have only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward to the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report added.

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According to the Iranian government, the decision was critical to curve smuggling in the Persian nation. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that the country would be forced to resume imports of gasoline by 2021 if smuggling and rising consumption of the fuel are not contained.

Iran was an importer of gasoline until 2010 but currently produces around 110 million liters of the fuel each day. The government believes smuggling has reached 40 million liters a day this year as the illegal business has become more lucrative in light of growing demand for the fuel in the neighboring countries.

The Persian nation, which has some of the world's cheapest fuel prices due to heavy subsidies and the fall of its national currency, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling by land to neighboring countries and by sea to Gulf Arab states.

The country stepped up its fight against smuggling fuel earlier this month when its coast guards seized a vessel for smuggling fuel in the Gulf and detained its 12 Filipino crew members.

In July, Iran seized a British oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations, two weeks after British forces detained an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar accused of taking oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Panama’s Maritime Administration (AMP) condemned the use of Panamanian-flagged ships for illicit acts, confirming that the tanker Riah seized by Iran in July was, in fact, smuggling oil. 

Iran's Adrian Darya 1, formerly Grace 1, was released in August and the British-flagged Steno Impero oil tanker in September. 

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