ECONOMY

Energy firms worried as EU warns rouble gas payments may breach sanctions

Energy firms worried as EU warns rouble gas payments may breach sanctions

Complying with the new gas payment terms demanded by Moscow would amount to a violation of European Union sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission’s Legal Service has found in a preliminary assessment.

On March 31, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree stipulating that “unfriendly” buyers of its gas open a bank account both in foreign currency and in roubles with Gazprombank. The Russian bank would convert the foreign currency payments into roubles before transferring the payment to Gazprom, the state-owned gas company. The targets were buyers in 48 countries, including the EU.

The warning that the currency-switching scheme could be found to contravene EU sanctions has raised alarm among European firms, including Greece’s DEPA infrastructure, Mytilineos and Prometheus Gas.

The Greek companies’ legal departments, which last week received the non paper from the Ministry of Environment and Energy, are waiting for Brussels to finalize its legal analysis before taking any action. The deadline for payments on April gas deliveries under the new mechanism is May 20. [Combined reports]