Russian oil companies transfer their bank accounts to ensure the smooth running of their source business

Pump jacks are seen in the Ashalchinskoye oil field owned by Russian oil producer Tatneft near Almetyevsk in the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia July 27, 2017. Picture taken July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

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MOSCOW, March 1 (Reuters) – Some Russian oil companies have stopped doing business with sanctioned lenders, including VTB and Sberbank, and switched to unrestricted ones, including Rosbank, Unicredit and Raiffeisen, said to Reuters five people close to the file.

The United States has sanctioned five major Russian banks, including Sberbank (SBER.MM) and VTB (VTBR.MM), which are widely used to finance oil and gas projects and facilitate energy trade, in response to the invasion of Ukraine by Moscow.

While Russian energy companies are not subject to Western sanctions, those imposed on Russian banks have led to the suspension of payments to the oil companies’ bank accounts, with Western banks avoiding doing business with them.

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“We have not been able to receive payments from our counterparties since last week, so we had to make changes to continue business,” said a source from a Russian oil company, who had an account in one sanctioned banks.

Two other sources said transferring bank accounts was helping to keep business going, but coping with an unprecedented wave of economic sanctions was still a challenge. Russian oil producers are postponing tenders due to a lack of buyers, with importers from Europe and Asia refusing Russian vessels. Read more

Rosbank, owned by France’s Societe Generale (SOGN.PA), Italy’s Unicredit (CRDI.MI) and Austrian lender Raiffeisen are among the lenders being sought as alternatives, the five sources said.

The three banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

International lenders face a rapidly changing situation as the United States, the European Union and Britain step up their measures against Russia. So far, Western countries have sanctioned Russia’s central bank, closed their airspace to its planes and cut off some of its lenders from the SWIFT global financial network.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” which it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy the military capabilities of its southern neighbor and capture what it sees as dangerous nationalists.

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Reporting from the Moscow Newsroom, Dmitry Zhdannikov and Julia Payne in London; Editing by Carmel Crimmins and Tomasz Janowski

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Shawanda H. Saldana