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The EU endures sanctions on Russian oil companies, but stops short of banning imports: source

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By Francesco Guarascio

BRUSSELS, March 14 (Reuters) – European Union states are ready to adopt new Rosneft sanctions against Russian oil majors Rosneft, Transneft and Gazprom Neft but will continue to buy oil from them, a source in the bloc told Reuters on Monday.

All three companies are already subject to EU restrictions on loans and debt financing.

Under the new package of measures, to be discussed by EU diplomats on Monday, they will also face an investment ban, which is expected to freeze funding from EU sources for new exploration and production projects of all fuels.

But in a sign of the EU’s concern about the impact of the sanctions on oil prices and supplies, the governments insisted on clarifying that the new measures would not prevent states and companies in the bloc from buying oil from the three Russian companies, The source said.

This contrasts with last week’s move by the United States to ban oil imports from Russia, which used a price hike.

Rosneft, Transneft and Gazprom Neft would be subject to a “transaction ban,” according to the official, which would block investments and other transfers of financial resources to them.

Many EU governments have asked for exceptions that would allow EU companies to pay their bills to big Russian companies and still buy their oil, the source said.

The petition has caused a slight delay in the approval of the new sanctions, which were soon presented for approval on Sunday.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio. Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)

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