Private Iranian companies have succeeded in exporting some of the country’s oil despite tight Western sanctions, the head of Iran’s oil products exporters’ union said yesterday. European Union and US sanctions ban all imports of Iranian oil and apply to state-run and private firms, yet Iranian officials say private sellers can sidestep Western efforts to prevent Iran from selling oil. At least one cargo of Iranian oil has been shipped to an unnamed country by a private company, helping limit the impact of pressure which has dented Iran’s oil exports in 2012, Hassan Khosrojerdi told Iran’s Mehr news agency. “This shipment of oil was transferred to a foreign company using non-Iranian oil tankers,” Khosrojerdi said, without giving any details. “Through negotiations and marketing with several foreign companies, several new contracts have been signed to export oil through the private sector.” The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has been solely responsible for exporting the crude until now. But Tehran has allowed private companies to try to sell some of it in a bid to get around sanctions aimed at starving it of funds for its disputed nuclear programme. Washington and Brussels have significantly tightened sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking sectors this year to try to pressure Iran into stopping nuclear work they suspect is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Tehran denies this. The European Union enforced a total embargo on the purchase of Iranian oil at the start of July, while Western political pressure and a ban on European insurers covering Iranian oil shipments has made it difficult for other buyers to import it. From gulf times.