Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, July 9, 2019 - In recent days, reports have emerged on social media claiming that huge amounts of fuel are smuggled to Pakistan over Iran’s eastern borders. Namely the Sistan and Baluchistan province in southeast Iran where the major part of the Sunni minority lives is blamed for the smuggling.
However, it is no secret that the main smuggling of fuel and especially oil in recent years isn’t done with 40-liter fuel containers. Organizing endless caravans of fuel tankers with thousands of liters of capacity each can’t be done without at least receiving the green light from authorities.
In 2018, the Fars news agency, affiliated to the terrorist-designated Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), published a video clip titled, “Organized smuggling of fuel/pipework on the seabed for smuggling fuel!” They also wrote about smuggling fuel with small boats: “In Hormozgan province, there are 50 launches [small boats] which smuggle 20,000 to 50,000 liters of fuel each, every day. That’s how millions of liters of the country’s resources are stolen every day.”
Smuggling fuel was a lucrative business in Iran even before the energy sanctions that prevented the Iranian mullahs from selling the country’s crude oil for hard currency. That is because fuel is subsidized in Iran and is sold way lower than free market prices. Profiteers with the right connections and assets can make a fortune by smuggling the cheap fuel to neighboring countries.
Also in late 2018, Abdollah Hendiani, deputy manager of the office of the fight against goods and currency smuggling in Iran, said during an interview with Iran’s state-run television, “Over the past three months, about one billion liters have been smuggled. This is about ten to 13 million liters of smuggled fuel every day.”
Smuggling this huge amount of fuel over the Iranian border per day requires a caravan of 500 fuel tankers with a capacity of 20,000 liters each. And every tanker needs to cross the border twice per day.
The amount of trafficked fuel is so high that Pakistani officials are calling for action to prevent further damages to their economy.
Fars news agency writes, “The Pakistani customs office announced in a report that smuggled fuel from Iran is damaging the country in the range of 300 million rupees per year, calling for increased supervision of the borders.”
“Reports show that about 50 to 60 percent of Karachi’s fuel is smuggled and foreign shipping companies and domestic fuel stations are the customer base of Iran’s smuggled gas,” Fars news agency further writes.
The situation is so bad that Iranian regime Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh acknowledges the fact that officials have a hand in the entire smuggling business. “Smuggling has increased. And it’s not only smugglers, everybody has [a hand in it],” he said.
Iran’s chief of the committee for combating trafficking also said that smuggling fuel is an “organized crime” and “it may be connected to some government institutions.”
Although smuggling fuel and crude oil can by no means compensate for the sales that the Iranian regime has lost due to sanctions, pundits expect further increases in smuggling in the coming months.