An Iranian official said that Iran was constructing seven refineries across the country, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Monday.
The country was planning to invest 27 billion U.S. dollars on the refineries, Head of National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company Seyed Noureddin Shahnazizad said in a press conference on Sunday.
"After the inauguration of these seven refineries, the production capacity of the country in gasoline and gas-oil will increase by 190 and 180 million liters per day respectively," Shahnazizad said, adding that the refineries would become operational in 2013, without referring to the locations of them in the country.
Iran is the world's fourth-largest exporter of crude but due to the lavish consumption of heavily subsidized fuel by Iranian drivers, the country cannot meet the domestic gasoline needs, and is forced to import large amounts which it then sells very cheaply at the pump.
To urge Iranians to cut their consumption, Iran's government started rationing gasoline in June 2007.
Under Iran's gasoline rationing system, motorists are allowed to buy 120 liters per month at the price of 1,000 Rials (around 10U.S.cents) per liter.
The speculations are circulated that in order to encounter the Westerners' potential plan of targeting Iranian gasoline imports "in fresh economic sanctions," aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program, Iran "is scrambling to boost its refining capacity and tamp down domestic demand."
Israel, the United States and their Western allies have long been accusing Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons, but Iran insists that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.