Iran asserted on Saturday that it remained unaffected by Western attempts to deny it refined petroleum products.

“Iran imports gasoline whenever need arises and there is no problem in this regard,” Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Alireza Zeighami told the Mehr news agency.

Iran is the world's fifth largest oil exporter. However, on account of its low refining capacity, it meets nearly 40 per cent of its requirements of petrol through imports. The U.S. and the E.U. have enforced stringent unilateral sanctions targeting Iran's oil sector following the passage of relatively milder sanctions on June 9 in the United Nations Security Council, which mainly targeted Tehran’s financial sector.

Analysts say that Turkey, China and Russia appear to be effectively breaching unilateral attempts by the United States and the European Union to deny gasoline to Iran. Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that Ankara was not obliged to halt sales of petroleum products to Iran. “If the preference of the private sector is to sell these [petroleum] products to Iran, we will help them. There is no demand for Turkey to halt the trade of these products with Iran,” said Mr. Yildiz.

He added there was also no interruption in Turkey's expanding energy ties with Iran. Turkey and Iran's ambitious joint plan to build power plants that could generate around 6,000 megawatts of electricity was on stream, said Mr. Yidiz. Once accomplished, the two countries will have enough capacity not only to meet their domestic needs, but also meet some of the requirements of other countries in West Asia.

Ankara and Tehran are also planning to establish a natural gas pipeline that would be used to funnel Iranian gas to Turkey and the European gas markets beyond. The Turkish private energy firm SOM Petrol is involved in this exercise.

The dependence of Turkey's oil refining giant, Tupras, on Iranian crude to meet nearly one-third of its requirements is yet another illustration of deepening energy ties between Ankara and Tehran. “For us, Iran is more important than America, because we get crude oil from them. We don't get anything from America,” a Tupras official was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, in July, Unipec, the trading arm of the Chinese refiner Sinopec, along with Tupras provided Iran with three cargoes of petrol of 45 million litres each. The Russian oil giant LUKOIL has also reportedly resumed gasoline sales to Iran in partnership with China's state-run firm, Zhuhai Zhenrong.

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