US lawmakers target Iran gasoline imports

24th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Swiss firms Vitol, Glencore and Trafigura provide Iran with most of its gasoline.

Washington -- Prompted by post-election unrest in Iran, a committee in the US House of Representatives voted Tuesday to target the Islamic republic's gasoline imports and its domestic energy sector.

The House Appropriations Committee approved a measure prohibiting the US Export-Import Bank from helping companies that export gasoline to Iran or support its production at home.

"While students are murdered in the streets of Tehran, we should not use taxpayer money to bolster the Iranian economy," said Republican Representative Mark Kirk, a leading author of the provision.

Because of a lack of domestic refining capacity, oil-rich Iran is dependent on gasoline imports to meet about 40 percent of domestic consumption.

Iran gets most of its gasoline imports from the Swiss firm Vitol, the Swiss/Dutch firm Trafigura, France's Total, the Swiss firm Glencore and British Petroleum, as well as the Indian firm Reliance.

In 2007 and 2008, the US Export-Import Bank approved two separate loan guarantees totaling USD 900 million (CHF 959 million) to expand the largest refinery owned by Reliance, which provides roughly one-third of Iran’s daily import of gasoline, Kirk's office said.

Kirks' measure was an amendment attached to the annual spending bill to cover the expenses of the US State Department and other US foreign operations, which must clear the House and Senate before being signed into law.

Even before protestors took to the streets of Tehran after the contested Iranian presidential election, lawmakers had targeted the Islamic republic's imports over its suspect nuclear program.

AFP / Expatica

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