Italy seeks to open account in rubles to guarantee gas supply

The Italian energy group Eni began procedures to open two accounts, one in euros and the other in rubles, to pay for Russian gas in its eagerness to maintain the offer without violating the sanctions.

Eni, one of Europe’s largest importers of Russian gas, said the move was precautionary and followed Gazprom’s unilateral request to modify existing contracts under a new payment scheme.

The company will temporarily open the two accounts without prejudice to its contractual rights, which still contemplate payment in euros,” the Italian group said in a statement.

The state-controlled Italian firm said its decision was made in agreement with the government and in compliance with the sanctions framework.

The energy company faces a deadline to pay Russia’s state-owned Gazprom on May 20, after Moscow demanded in late March that foreign buyers start paying for gas in rubles or risk losing supply. .

Uniper, Germany’s largest importer of Russian gas, said it was transferring euros to an account at Gazprombank to meet Russian demands, but did not mention a separate ruble account.

Like its German peer RWE, Uniper faces a payment deadline of the end of May, although it has not specified a date.

For weeks, countries and companies have been seeking clarity from the European Commission on how payments will proceed without breaching sanctions.

Eni claimed that, as requested by the European Commission, it clarified with Gazprom from the outset that it considered its obligations with the transfer of euros satisfied.

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