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UPDATE 1-Iran April gasoline exports seen up to 50,000 T

ForexApr 11, 2011 10:08AM ET
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* Iran to export 30,000-50,000 tonnes of gasoline in April

* Only three cargoes imported during first quarter

(Adds detail, official quote, background)

By Amena Bakr and Luke Pachymuthu

DUBAI/SINGAPORE, April 1 (Reuters) - Iran plans to sell around 30,000-50,000 tonnes of gasoline to foreign customers in April, traders told Reuters on Monday.

Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude oil exporter, previously imported around 40 percent of its gasoline needs due to inadequate domestic refining capacity.

Cuts in gasoline subsidies have also curbed consumption.

"The issue is Iran's gasoline is still low quality, and the only buyers will be from developing countries that are looking for cheap fuel," said one Gulf-based trader, who added that since mid-March Iran had been looking for buyers.

International sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program have made it more difficult for Tehran to do business with international oil companies.

Traders say the bulk of the gasoline Iran will export this month will go to neighbouring Afghanistan and other poor countries.

"These volumes have been on the table since last month, but it would be interesting to see how much of that actually reaches the buyers," the Gulf-based trader added.

During the first three months of this year Iran imported only three cargoes of gasoline, traders said.

"Iran does not need to import anymore. We are self sufficient and don't have the risk of being short on supplies," said a source at the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

"The exports will continue even over the summer, when we have very high demand," the NIOC source added.

Iran traditionally imported between 11-13 cargos a month during the summer holiday driving season.

"This has changed now, Iran has upgraded its facilities and has the capacity to meet its own demand in addition to producing excess which is now being exported," Mohammed Ali Khatibi, Iran's OPEC governor told Reuters.

(Editing by Robert Campbell and Jane Baird) ((; +971 4 391 8301; ReutersMessaging:

UPDATE 1-Iran April gasoline exports seen up to 50,000 T

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