Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said on Tuesday the spread of the disease did not stop Iran’s oil production, “thanks to persist efforts in the oil industry to protect the health of our employees”.
Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province has seen a spike in coronavirus cases, forcing authorities to close offices and impose travel restrictions in nine counties, including Abadan which is a major refinery town.
Elsewhere across Iran, the government has begun easing restrictions on normal life as new cases of infection have continued to decline.
The disease has hit the global oil industry hard, leading to a sharp decline in crude oil and products prices amid a slump in energy demand which has resulted in a rise in crude oil and products stocks, Zangeneh said.
“Gasoline storage in Iran has already reached an all-time high,” he said during a meeting with his deputies and Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri in Tehran.
Despite being a major oil producer, Iran was a gasoline importer for almost four decades because local refiners could not meet growing demand. The imports had turned into a strategic vulnerability for Iran which has been facing round after round of Western sanctions for years.
That ended early last year when Iran brought a major refinery project in Bandar Abbas online, making the country self-sufficient in gasoline and producing some surplus for export.
The coronavirus has also caused a temporary suspension of some upstream and downstream projects in the oil industry, especially the Pars Special Economic Energy Zone which handles Iran’s giant South Pars oil and gas resources, Zangeneh said.