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Gas guzzling nation seeks environmental solutions

Iran :

British environmental engineers are in demand to reduce Iran's dependence on oil.

Iran this year unleashed a five year programme to cut fuel consumption that is spiralling dangerously out of control.

The newly launched plan aims to cut domestic demand for oil which has reached such a pitch that the world's third largest producer imported £533M worth of oil in 2000 which on current estimates will rise to £4.6bn in five years time.

Fifty projects in transport, buildings and industry aim to cut pollution choking Iran's cities.

The Iranian Fuel Consumption Optimising Company (IFCO) - a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company - will look to Britain to help deliver solutions and consultant Mott McDonald is already believed to be in talks with the NIOC about producing a master plan to reduce fuel consumption.

Projects range from a smart card to limit the amount of fuel cars can use, to making buildings three times more energy efficient.

'We don't know about new techniques for making buildings more energy efficient, ' says IFCO home appliance industries manager Mr S Sattari. 'For example we have no industry in building insulation at all. Britain and Scandanavian countries are regarded as world leaders in this field.'

Cutting petrol consumption from the average of 13.5litres per car per day to eight litres is the priority. The government is not expected to cut its annual £8.6bn subsidy, which keeps the price of petrol down to five cents a litre - 15% of its actual value.

Under IFCO plans petrol consumption will be monitored via a smart card connected to the fuel meter and cars going over a certain level could be made to pay more. IFCO's 'green card' scheme is being piloted by a team of 45 academics from the department of engineering at Tehran's Sharif University. IFCO will appoint a foreign consortium with experience of similar smart card schemes to be the scheme vendor. It is said to be negotiating with firms from the UK, Germany and Australia.

Oil - which is in such demand that Iran has not enough refineries to cater for domestic needs - is seen as the enemy and IFCOs wants to develop alternatives.

Petroleum is already being replaced by compressed natural gas (CNG) which is said to be longer lasting and cheaper to produce. The £200M investment in CNG will boost the requirement for more gas refineries in what is already the world's largest gas producer after Russia.

INFOPLUS Iranian Fuel Consumption Optimising 0098 21 225 7558

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