Two European energy firms confirm talks with Gazprom over paying for Russian gas

Two of Europe’s leading energy companies have confirmed they are in talks with Gazprom about how to pay for Russian gas, while complying with EU sanctions and Russia’s new rules demanding that all gas be paid for in rubles.

German firm Uniper said: “We consider a payment conversion compliant with sanctions law and the Russian decree to be possible. Uniper will continue to pay in euros. Uniper is in talks with its contractual partner about the concrete payment modalities and is also in close coordination with the German government.”

And Austrian firm OMV said: “We have analyzed the Gazprom request about payment methods in light of the EU-sanctions and are now working on a sanctions-compliant solution.”

This comes after Russia said it has cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, dramatically escalating its response to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

Russian state energy giant Gazprom said in a statement Wednesday that it had fully halted supplies to Polish gas company PGNiG and Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz after they refused to meet a demand by Moscow to pay in rubles, rather than euros or dollars.

Uniper, which is one of Europe’s leading gas companies, added: “For our company and for Germany as a whole, it is not possible to do without Russian gas in the short term; this would have dramatic consequences for our economy.”

Under the new Russian payment scheme, energy importers have had to open two bank accounts with Gazprombank — a foreign currency account and a ruble account. Buyers are required to deposit foreign currency (dollars or euros) with Russia’s Gazprombank, which then converts it into rubles for onward payment to Moscow.

A European Commission document release last week advised that it “appears possible” to comply with the new Russian rules without getting into conflict with EU law.

On Wednesday, the Hungarian Foreign Minister confirmed to CNN that his country will use the payment scheme put in place by Moscow to pay for its oil and gas. 

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