(Bloomberg) -- Iran may sit atop a vast reserve of natural gas, but the Persian Gulf state has been busily trying to build up a buffer of petroleum to help keep the lights on this winter.

Iran has a larger petroleum stockpile now than it did this time a year ago, the semi-official Tasnim news service reported Friday. The stash will help the country to generate electricity despite a shortage -- projected at 200 million cubic meters per day -- of the natural gas it usually burns, according to Tasnim. 

The supplies were amassed to avoid the kind of blackouts that beset the nation last winter. Iran still relies on petroleum for power at times of heavy demand, and has to import electricity from neighboring Turkmenistan to supply its northern region. It also exports gas to Turkey and Iraq, and electricity to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

The Islamic Republic built up diesel inventories at a rate of 6 million liters, or about 38,000 barrels, per day in the first five months of its year, which began in March. They will be drawn down by about 3 million liters a day for the following seven months, the national grid management company’s managing director told state-run IRNA last month.

The country is the world’s third-largest natural gas producer in the world and holder of the second-largest reserves, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 


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