Fuel Cards May Be Scrapped

Fuel Cards May Be ScrappedFuel Cards May Be Scrapped

Iran's electronic fuel card system is prone to fraud and may be scrapped once and for all within the next few months, the head of Iran Gas Station Owners Union said.

Bijan Haj-Mohammad Reza added that the government extended the expiration date of fuel cards by the end of the Iranian month ending November 21 to allow people to use the remainder of their subsidized gasoline before the deadline.

However, the cards may be "annulled" in the near future, ILNA quoted the official as saying on Monday.

In late May, the government announced it would no longer allocate subsidized gasoline, among other types of fuel, to passenger vehicles at a price of 70,000 rials and regular gasoline would be offered at a single price of 10,000 rials (around 30 cents) for car owners nationwide without quota, while unleaded gasoline was offered at a new price of 12,000 rials (35 cents) per liter.

"Filling up cars at gas stations would be more efficient and uncluttered once the fuel cards are deactivated," Haj-Mohammad Reza said.

"Even using the cards of gas station attendants stalls every car for eight to 10 minutes, because a single card is for three pumps." In 2007, the government started issuing smart the fuel cards. It previously offered 60 liters of subsidized gasoline monthly to private cars and motorbikes with 1,800 cc-capacity engines or below via fuel cards at 7,000 rials per liter.

  Fuel Savings

Before liberalizing the prices more than three months ago, Oil Ministry officials put the remainder of subsidized gasoline in fuel cards at around 2.5 billion liters. Initially, a September 22 deadline was set to consume this amount, but the government extended the deadline by two more months.

The authorities were curious to know why such an enormous amount of gasoline was left unused.

Haj-Mohammad Reza stressed that given the situation, the government has no choice but to "roll back the system" to how it was in 2007. Despite the disadvantages, however, the implementation of fuel card system has lowered daily gasoline consumption by 30-35%, from a whopping 110 million liters per day to approximately 75 mcm/d.

According to officials of the previous government, fuel cards were introduced to keep track of dilapidated gas-guzzlers nationwide. However, Haj-Mohammad Reza believes the goal has been fulfilled and closed-circuit cameras at gas stations will essentially do the same.