Posted 31.07.2012 14:21:13 UTC
Updated 31.07.2012 14:21:13 UTC
“We must stop the exports of crude oil,” Ahmedinejad was quoted as saying by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) in a speech opening a new refinery near Tehran.
“We must go in such a direction that we do not export crude oil, and this is doable through the development of refineries and distribution.”
Iranian crude exports have fallen sharply because of US and European Union sanctions aimed at starving the government of vital oil revenues for its nuclear programme by banning imports of Iranian crude and refined products.
Washington has prohibited US companies from trading in all Iranian oil products for years, while an EU ban on importing crude and refined products came into effect on July 1.
Western government efforts to pressure Iran's biggest customers in Asia to reduce their trade have focused on crude because Iran struggles to meet its own needs for refined fuel.
Until 2007, Iran's inadequate refineries and rising demand made it highly dependent on imported gasoline - vulnerability Western powers have targeted by blocking supplies to the country.
Iran has succeed in reducing its gasoline imports by building refining capacity, cutting fuel subsidies, rationing fuel and using more compressed natural gas.
With most foreign energy companies and engineering contractors avoiding Iran for fear of angering Washington, Iran has been forced to push on with its energy projects alone.
Ahmedinejad said at the ceremony that Iran should also sell technical and engineering expertise it has gained from such projects, oil ministry website Shana said.
Iran oil exports fell further last month to between 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) and 1.3 million bpd.