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Germany’s Uniper Looks To Buy Russian Gas In Euro-To-Ruble Scheme

Germany’s Uniper is continuing talks with Russian Gazprom and the German government on paying in rubles for deliveries of Russian gas, according to a Q1 financial report, out today.

The news comes as the European Commission urges member-state governments to shun Russian gas amid preparations for an embargo on Russian crude oil imports.

Uniper, which is one of Germany’s top gas buyers from Russia, said last week it was going to accept Gazprom’s new terms for gas payments.

"The plan is to make our payments in euros to an account in Russia," a company spokesperson told German media, as cited by Reuters last Thursday. Since then, however, the EC has stepped up pressure on European gas importers.

Yesterday, the Commission reiterated its warning that paying for Russian gas in rubles would constitute a breach of EU sanctions on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Per the new Russian terms for payments, any buyer of Russian gas from any unfriendly country needs to open two accounts in Gazprombank: one in the foreign currency it wants to pay in and one in rubles.

When a gas payment is due, the buyer deposits the necessary sum in dollars or euros in its first Gazprombank account. The bank then converts the sum into rubles under Russian central bank exchange rates and deposits it in the second account, from which the actual payment is made.

"Paying roubles through the conversion mechanism managed by the Russian public authorities and a second dedicated account in Gazprombank is a violation of the sanctions and cannot be accepted," said Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson on Monday.

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The European Union received some 40% of its imported natural gas from Russia along with 26% of its imported crude oil. The bloc has substantially stepped up its efforts to find replacement supplies in the last few weeks.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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