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EghtesadOnline: Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh says Iran still needs to import gasoline to meet domestic demand despite the launch of a major gas condensate complex last week.

"I never said we have become self-reliant in gasoline production. Others said that," Zanganeh said on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Shana reported.

The first production phase of the Persian Gulf Star Refinery (PGSR), billed as the Middle East's largest processing facility for condensates, was inaugurated by President Hassan Rouhani on April 30.

According to Zanganeh, the inauguration ceremony and his address drew some unwanted and incorrect headlines in the local and international media, with several outlets reporting that Iran had now become self-sufficient in gasoline production, Financial Tribune reported.

"We only said that steady production of gasoline is now underway in the first phase of the Persian Gulf Star Refinery."

Rouhani said on Sunday that the commissioning of the PGSR's first phase "puts Iran on track for self-reliance in gasoline production and its export in the near future," according to the Financial Tribune, citing the Oil Ministry's official news agency Shana.

Once fully operational, the PGSR will add Iran's name on the list of gasoline exporting nations and end years of reliance on imports of the fuel.

According to the Tribune, the PGSR's remaining phases are expected to be completed by next March.

The refinery is now operating at one-third of its oil processing capacity of 360,000 barrels per day.

Iranians burned almost 74 million liters of gasoline per day in the previous fiscal year that ended on March 20. The government had to import 12 million liters daily to meet demand, data show.

In the first development phase, 12 million liters per day of Euro-4 grade gasoline will be produced at the major refining complex. The refinery's other products include diesel, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG.

Once in full swing, the PGSR will produce 36 ml/d of gasoline, which will effectively cut gasoline imports and transform Iran into an exporter of the product.

"We can start gasoline exports once the second and third phases of the refinery come on stream," Zanganeh said.

Bijan Namdar Zanganeh Iran gasoline Iran Gasoline Self-Reliance Iran gasoline demand