Amid the context of possible sanctions for buying Russian gas in rubles, Europe’s major energy companies are considering the best option to evade this restriction. Italy, Germany, Greece, and other European countries could open bank accounts with Gazprombank to continue importing Russian gas.
Eni SpA, Italy’s leading gas distributor, is analyzing opening a ruble account at Gazprombank, the bank of Russian energy company Gazprom, following the Russian company’s announcement to allow companies to circumvent European Union sanctions against Russia, according to Bloomberg.
The Italian company, which gets about 40% of its gas from Russia, has only paid in euros. Still, considering that the next round of payments is in the second half of May, Eni SpA may start financing gas in rubles.
Uniper, the German energy company, believes that “a payment conversion that complies with the sanctions law and the Russian decree” is feasible, according to the BBC.
“For our company and for Germany as a whole, it is not possible to give up Russian gas immediately; this would have dramatic consequences for our economy,” a company spokesman said.
Greece, which has a contract with Gazprom that will end in 2026, said it will continue to import Russian gas, but will do so without violating sanctions.
“Gazprom has proposed a form of payment. This has legal, financial and political aspects. We have been evaluating all these aspects,” Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas told Ekathimerini.
Bulgaria and Poland refused to pay for gas in rubles and said they will not continue to import Russian gas.
Hungary and Slovakia said they will continue to import Russian gas and will pay in Russian currency.
According to Euronews, Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission’s executive vice president, said companies that buy Russian gas in rubles may face legal action.
“It’s a relatively complex environment,” Dombrovskis said.
Dombrovskis explained that EU member states, which imposed sanctions on Russia, are obliged to impose legal action on companies that agree to buy gas in rubles. But, that also, the European Commission is checking whether the member states are actually applying sanctions to energy companies in their territories.
“If we see that this is not the case, there is also a possibility that the European Commission will initiate infringement proceedings in this regard,” the EU vice president added.
However, Russia supplies gas through pipelines to 23 European countries, and according to reports, ten European energy companies have opened ruble bank accounts and four of them have already paid in Russian currency, Bloomberg reported.