EU gives companies green light to buy gas from Russia

The European Union said companies can keep buying gas without breaching sanctions, as it softened its stance in a standoff with Moscow over energy supplies.

The European Commission sent its revised guidelines to member states on Friday, a spokesperson said on Monday. In the updated recommendations, it said companies should make a clear statement that they consider their obligations fulfilled once they pay in euros or dollars.

EU sanctions “do not prevent economic operators from opening a bank account in a designated bank for payments due under contracts for the supply of natural gas in a gaseous state, in the currency specified in those contracts,” the commission said. “Operators should make a clear statement that they intend to fulfil their obligations under existing contracts and consider their contractual obligations regarding the payment already fulfilled by paying in euros or dollars, in line with the existing contracts.”

The guidance does not prevent companies from opening an account at Gazprombank and will allow them to purchase gas in accordance with EU sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But it stops short of addressing the requirement by Moscow to open a second account in rubles, which according to a decree by President Vladimir Putin is needed to make the payment complete. The guidance matches what Bloomberg reported on Saturday.

European gas prices extended losses on Monday.

European companies are starting to move ahead to comply with Russian demands and keep the gas flowing. Italian energy giant Eni SpA will move to open accounts in rubles and euros with Gazprombank by Wednesday so that it can make payments on time this month and avoid any risks to gas supplies, according to people familiar with the situation.

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