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Angy Protests Erupt In Iran Over Gas Rationing

From an outraged (at the demonstrators) AFP:

Angry protests flare in Iran over petrol rationing

by Pierre Celerier Wed Jun 27

TEHRAN (AFP) – Angry youths torched petrol stations and long queues formed at heavily-guarded fuel pumps on Wednesday after oil-rich Iran announced the start of fuel rationing, triggering nationwide protests.

“Several stations were damaged by agitators,” state radio reported, as angry drivers trying to stock up on fuel clashed with police after the surprise announcement that the rationing would take effect from midnight Tuesday.

Shouting “(President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad must be killed,” stone-throwing demonstrators set ablaze a car and petrol pumps at a service station in the Pounak residential area of northwestern Tehran late on Tuesday.

The protests are the first such open outpouring of anger since Ahmadinejad took office in 2005, although criticism has mounted recently in some economic circles that his policies were fuelling inflation and hurting the poor.

Iran, OPEC’s number two oil producer and the fourth in the world, announced on Tuesday that its rationing plan, aimed at reducing colossal state petrol subsidies, would extend to private cars and taxis…

Long queues of cars, some several kilometres (miles) long, snaked from petrol stations in Tehran and across the country as armed police stood guard. In some areas, people turned up with buckets to fill up with fuel.

“From midnight tonight (2030 GMT) petrol for all vehicles and motorcycles will be rationed,” state television said, quoting an oil ministry statement issued just a few hours before the rationing came into force.

It said private cars using just petrol would be rationed to 100 litres of petrol a month while those using petrol and liquefied gas would only be allowed 30 litres.

The government said the rationing would continue for four months and might be extended further to six months in Iran, where there are more than seven million cars on the roads.

Separate quotas have also been introduced for both municipal yellow taxis and privately-run taxis, both essential means of transport in Iran.

Cheap pump prices have encouraged such consumption in Iran that the government ironically had to spend five billion dollars importing petrol in the last financial year ended March.

Its refining capacity covers only about 60 percent of its needs, while smugglers also illegally take cheap petrol out of the country to neighbouring states where pump prices are far higher.

Iran launched the first phase of the rationing plan two weeks ago, initially targeting only government vehicles.

Last month, it also raised pump prices by 25 percent, to around 10 cents per litre, for a commodity that still costs less than a comparable amount of mineral water.

Iran estimates that without rationing, fuel imports could reach 9.5 billion dollars a year

This brings back memories of the man who started it all, Jimmy Carter. But this time the shoe is on the other foot.

Just imagine how screwed up you have to be to have ration gasoline and even import oil while being the world’s fourth largest exporter of petroleum. (And I realize that refining is a different process. But still.)

I sure hope they bought some of Al Gore’s carbon offsets for that demonstration.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, June 27th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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