TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran established its first oil products bourse Sunday in a free trade zone on the Persian Gulf Island of Kish, the country's oil ministry said.
A statement posted on the ministry's Web site said 100 tons
of polyethylene consignment was traded at the market's opening on the island, which houses the offices of about 100 Iranian and foreign oil companies.
Oil and petrochemical products will be traded in Iranian Rials, as well as all other hard currencies, the statement quoted Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari as saying. About 20 brokers are already active in the market, it said.
'The bourse provides an economic opportunity for Iranians, other countries and foreign customers,' Nozari was quoted as saying.
Iran produces more than 20 million tons of petrochemical products per year.
Iran has already registered for another oil bourse, in which it has said it hopes to trade oil in Euros instead of dollars, to reduce any American influence over the Islamic Republic's economy.
A bourse official, Mahdi Karbasian, told the IRNA official news agency that such an oil market would begin operating within the next year.
While most oil markets are traded in U.S. dollars, Iran first floated the idea of trading oil in Euros in the early 2000s during the tenure of reformist president Mohammad Khatami. It gained new life after the nationalist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005.
As the fourth-largest oil producer in the world, Iran has a measure of influence over international oil markets. The country ranks second for output among OPEC Countries, and controls about 5 percent of the global oil supply.
Tehran also partially controls the Persian Gulf's Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world's oil supply must pass.
Iran has sought to wield its oil resources as a bargaining tool in its ongoing standoff with the West over its nuclear program.
The U.N. Security Council is considering imposing a third set of sanctions on Iran for defying a request to halt uranium enrichment. But Tehran has expressed doubt that the world body would impose sanctions on the country's oil sector, because such a move would likely drive global oil prices higher.
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