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Mon, Aug 20, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Sacked Iranian oil minister warns of energy crisis

AFP , TEHRAN

Iran's ex-oil minister, sacked by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a reshuffle last week, has warned of looming catastrophe in the energy sector because of high consumption, media reported yesterday.

"If we do not find a solution to the energy problem in the next 15 years, the country will face a catastrophe," Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh was quoted as saying at his farewell ceremony late on Saturday by the ISNA student news agency.

"I am ready to prove that if the fuel situation continues along current trends we will face an energy crisis in the future," he said. "The current pattern of consumption is a disaster for the country."

Iran is OPEC's No. 2 crude oil producer and is also pinning major hopes on its gas reserves, estimated to be the second-largest in the world after Russia.

But frenzied consumption of petrol forces it to import millions of liters per day of refined oil to make up for a domestic shortfall. Wasteful heating methods also created gas shortages in winter.

Vaziri Hamaneh confirmed for the first time that he was sacked in the reshuffle, which also saw the departure of Industry Minister Alireza Tahmasebi and was seen as a bid by Ahmadinejad to step up his control over the economy.

"I did not resign, because I still have the ability to work. Anyone who has the ability to work will not resign," Vaziri Hamaneh said, according to the Mehr news agency.

"Sacking me from the ministry was the president's idea, and I obliged," he said.

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