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BPCL avoiding Russian Sokol crude oil purchases due to payment issues -source

FILE PHOTO: A man paints the logo of oil refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp on a wall on the outskirts of Kochi

By Sethuraman N R

QUITOL, India (Reuters) - Indian refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL) is avoiding purchase of Russian Sokol crude oil and is relying mostly on Urals, as payments are not being cleared by intermediate banks, a company source said on Thursday.

The official declined to be identified due to the sensitivity nature of the information.

Presently there are no offers for Sokol grade crude and the Urals market has also become tight, the official said.

Urals oil, Russia's flagship export blend loaded from its western ports, is mostly supplied to Asia due to a European Union embargo on Russian oil, with India becoming its top buyer for seaborne oil.

Meanwhile, there have been no disruptions in BPCL receiving Russian crude due to the Red Sea crisis and the company will buy crude from any source as long as it is financially viable, head of refineries Sanjay Khanna said on the sidelines of the India Energy Week event in Goa.

While BPCL is looking to buy Venezuelan crude, offers were not viable as discounts need to be around $10, the source said.

(Reporting by Sethuraman N R; editing by David Goodman)