First U.S. refiner suspends purchases of Russian crude for Hawaii refinery

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March 3 (Reuters) - Par Pacific Holdings Inc (PARR.N) said on Thursday it would suspend the purchases of Russian crude oil for its Hawaii refinery, the first U.S. refiner to publicly refuse the country's oil following a wave of sanctions imposed after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The United States is open to imposing sanctions on Russia's oil and gas flows but has stopped short of targeting Russia's oil and gas exports as the Biden administration weighs the impacts on global oil markets and U.S. energy prices.

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the White House slapped sanctions on exports of technologies to Russia's refineries and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which has never launched.

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"We will continually monitor and evaluate our posture on Russian crude over the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, we are turning to other grades of crude, principally from North and South America, to meet fuel production requirements," Par Pacific said in a statement.

Par Pacific's suspension plans follow dozens of other Western companies, ranging from Apple (AAPL.O), Boeing (BA.N), and Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) to BP PLC , Shell and Norway's Equinor ASA (EQNR.OL), that have halted business or announced plans to abandon their Russia operations. read more

Par Pacific owns and operates one of the largest energy networks in Hawaii with 94,000 barrels per day of operating refining capacity, a logistics system supplying the major islands of the state and 90 retail locations.

The company imported 6.9 million barrels of Russian crude in 2021, the fifth most of any other U.S. refiner, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Other American refiners have declined to comment on whether or not they are suspending imports of Russian crude oil and refined products, but several have halted purchases amid uncertainty around future sanctions of Russian products and oil vessels.

Company executives and individual traders at hubs in New York and the U.S. Gulf say they are worried Washington could authorize additional moves, and also do not want to be seen as funding the invasion. read more

The United States on Wednesday took aim at Russia's oil refining sector with new export curbs and targeted Belarus with sweeping new export restrictions, as the Biden administration amps up its crackdown on Moscow and Minsk over the invasion of Ukraine. read more

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Reporting by Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Jonathan Oatis

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