TEHRAN, Iran, February 11, 2011 (ENS) – Iran’s ambitious plan to flood the market with synthetic petrol has been marred by ecological concerns. Tehran says it is becoming self-sufficient in petrol, in the hope of warding off the pain of further economic sanctions. But the effort has many detractors inside Iran, who say the method chosen – making petrol out of chemicals rather than crude oil – is uneconomic and environmentally unfriendly.
For the last five months, Iranian government officials have been saying the country is no longer reliant on petrol imports thanks to a development program launched two years ago to increase production and thereby cushion the country against a possible international ban on fuel sales.
In a Friday Prayers sermon on February 4, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the country would no longer have to import fuel as of February 11, the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and would even be able to export petrol.
Amid talk of further sanctions designed to pressure Tehran into complying with international demands for scrutiny over its controversial nuclear program, blocking all fuel exports to the country has featured high on the list of possible measures.
Aware of the threat, the Iranian government has been working to increase production capacity.
The plan was unveiled during the 2009 presidential campaign, which ended in victory for the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but sparked widesprea…