Reactions to Russia saying gas buyers must pay in roubles

A view shows Gazprom's gas processing facility at Bovanenkovo gas field
A view shows a gas processing facility, operated by Gazprom company, at Bovanenkovo gas field on the Arctic Yamal peninsula, Russia May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

March 31, 2022

(Reuters) -Following are reactions to Russian President Vladimir Putin saying foreign buyers of Russian gas must pay in roubles from April 1, and that contracts would be halted if these payments were not made.

GERMAN ECONOMY MINISTER ROBERT HABECK

“With regard to the threat, demand or consideration – one doesn’t know how to call it any more – to be made to pay in rouble, it is crucial for us that the contracts are respected.”

“It is important for us not to give a signal that we will be blackmailed by Putin.”

GERMAN CHANCELLOR OLAF SCHOLZ

“By all means, it remains the case that companies want, can and will pay in euro.”

GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER CHRISTIAN LINDNER

“We are convinced that contracts are contracts. The contracts are based on euro and so we will continue to pay for energy imports in euro.”

“We will look in detail into what is being proposed and demanded. But it is clear for us there can be no political blackmail.”

FRENCH ECONOMY MINISTER BRUNO LE MAIRE

“Contracts are contracts.”

DUTCH GAS TRADING CORPORATION GASTERRA

“International agreements contain clauses about payments and currency. Sticking to the agreement remains our position.”

DUTCH ENERGY COMPANY ENECO

After Putin’s announcement, a spokesperson said there was no change to the following statement, which it made the previous day:

“Eneco has a long-term contract with Wingas, a German subsidiary of Gazprom, for delivery until 2030. Eneco expects its current contract with Wingas in euros to be honoured.”

POLISH GAS COMPANY PGNiG

“PGNiG doesn’t provide detailed comments on contractual clauses. The company remains in current contact with Gazprom,” the company press office said.

Danish energy firm, Orsted, which has a long-term take-or-pay contract with Gazprom, said it was still waiting to hear from the Russian firm and declined to comment further.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON’S SPOKESPERSON

Asked if there were any circumstances in which Britain would pay in roubles for Russian gas:

“That is not something we will be looking to do.”

ANALYSTS AT FITCH SOLUTIONS

“Potentially, the Kremlin is acting from a fear that Gazprombank will soon be sanctioned too, amid a wider bid by the European Union to cut energy ties with Russia completely.”

“The long-term contracts for natural gas purchases from Russia are denominated in EUR (euros) and therefore, without contract renegotiation, there is no legal basis for Russia to enforce this demand.”

“Russia would have to physically halt gas flows to EU 27 (European Union member states) to force the issue, marking a major escalation not even performed at the height of the Cold War. It would mark another major financial blow to Russia’s coffers.”

(Compiled by Isla Binnie; editing by Barbara Lewis)