Oil Oil everywhere…

TEHRAN, June 6, 2007 (AFP) – Iran hopes to begin a much-delayed plan to ration petrol in the next two weeks amid continued uncertainty over its launch date, officials said on Wednesday.

The plan, aimed at reducing colossal subsidies paid by the state to finance oil-rich Iran’s frenzied petrol consumption, envisages forcing consumers to pay a much higher price for any purchases in excess of a rationed quota.

“I hope that the rationing plan will be able to start at the latest by June 21,” Mohammad Nasseri, the spokesman for the plan, told the ISNA student news agency.

Iran implemented the first stage of the plan on May 22 by raising pump prices by 25 percent and making consumers use smart cards to keep track of their petrol purchases.

But there remains considerable confusion over when and how the rationing will be implemented in OPEC member Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer.

The government has still shown no sign of announcing the size of the quota or how much petrol purchases in excess of this amount will cost.

Members of parliament’s energy commission which drafted the law have said the rationing plan should be scrapped entirely as use of the ca