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Diesel rationing in Iran from march 2009
Friday, 10 April 2009
Just before Nowruz, the Iranian new year – approximately 21 march 2009, the Iranian government implemented a new measure to ration fuel supply and to curb fuel smuggling to Turkey and Pakistan. Diesel fuel for commercial truckers is only available through a chipcard – same as it already was for petrol. Here’s our story how this affects travelers with diesel powered vehicles.

From 2002/2003 and onwards the availability of diesel fuel in the border area’s of Iran became more and more a problem. When we entered Iran in 2006 at the Bazargan border there was no diesel fuel available up to Tehran. All diesel fuel stations had long queues of trucks and truckers were waiting for the next diesel fuel supply. Same for the route from Bam upto Mirjaveh, the border with Pakistan. When there was the exceptional situation when there was diesel fuel, the amounts handed out were limited. Maximum 200-300 liters per truck.

In Turkey as well as Pakistan, the reasons for this were evident. Fuel smuggling because of the extremely low price of fuel in Iran. 1 liter of diesel for just 1 eurocent. The price in Pakistan is 25 fold, in Turkey almost 100 fold. Lucrative business for those in fuel smuggling. In Pakistan we saw many small pickup trucks with approximately 1 cubic meter of fuel cans stashed away in the back.

In march 2009 this has ended. Diesel fuel is only available through a chipcard. All diesel fuel stations are now equipped with a petrol pump requiring a chipcard to start the pump.
How truckers got their chipcards we don’t know – but fairly likely it’s a rationing system either depending on the transport route or a fixed quota per truck per month.

As tourist we didn’t have this chipcard. And at the first fuel station, the man at the pump asked for the chipcard. “Tourists” we said “no chipcard”. “Mushkilenist” he said and pulled out his own chipcard and let us fill our 600 liter tank to the maximum. Maybe we got lucky we thought so lets see what happens at the next fuel station.

800 Km further we tried again – same story. We got what we wanted, the maximum we could carry for the same price.  This repeated itself 5 times more, each time we were able to get diesel fuel on the chipcard of the fuel station. And best of all, there were no queues at all and there was diesel available.

Looking back at 2006 – this is a dramatic change and we think for the best of Iran. Next in line there could be a rationing system for tourist too. Same as it is for petrol, which was introduced in 2007. Read here for more details about the petrol rationing in Iran.

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