An Iranian official claimed on Tuesday Tehran has exported some 20 million barrels of oil in the last four months through private companies despite tightening sanctions on its energy sector.
Sanctions imposed by the EU and US are aimed at stopping Iran’s nuclear programme. The blanket ban applies to imports of Iranian oil by state-run and private firms. Iranian officials say private sellers have sidestepped those measures.
According to the semi-official Mehr news agency, Hassan Khosrojerdi, the head of Iran’s oil products exporters’ union, said on Tuesday Iran had sold more than 20 million barrels of crude oil through private companies in the past four months, equalling to around 170,000 barrels a day.
“During this period of time light and heavy types of Iranian oil have been exported to various countries through the private sector,” Khosrojerdi said.
The Iranian official added that 20% of Iran’s oil exports will be through private companies. He also claimed that Iran had reached agreements with European refiners to buy its oil, though he gave no further details.
Last month, Khosrojerdi announced that Iran had signed agreements to sell four million barrels of oil through private companies.
Tehran last week denied an International Energy Agency (IEA) report that estimated its exports falling to a new low of 860,000 bpd in September, a huge drop from 2.2 million bpd at the end of 2011.
Khosrojerdi said on Tuesday that Tehran had completed negotiations with foreign companies to export several further shipments of oil through private firms and said these shipments would be sent soon, though he did not give further details.
Iran’s oil ministry authorised the private export of Iranian oil in May. Historically, Iran’s National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) was solely responsible for the sale and marketing of Iran’s crude.
The Western sanctions have dented Iran’s oil exports, and European Union sanctions also prevent Europe’s marine insurance sector, which dominates the industry, from insuring tankers carrying Iranian oil.
Iran offered to provide up to $1 billion of insurance cover to Iranian vessels carrying its oil in order to sidestep the ban, but still has problems recovering payment for its oil due to sanctions against its central bank.
“In the last few months with the support of the government, the export of oil with tankers with Iranian and domestic insurance is taking place,” Khosrojerdi said. “This has led to the neutralisation of the sanctions on Iranian oil insurance.”