Moscow’s request to pay for purchases in rubles is “a unilateral and unjustified change in the contracts and it is legitimate to refuse it,” said Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.
“97% of contracts (signed by European companies) specify the currency for payment and it’s either the euro or the US dollar,” she said.
Kadri Simson said he had no idea about opening ruble accounts. “Payments are scheduled for mid-May and the majority of companies will comply with contract rules,” she assured. French Minister for Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili, President of the meeting, confirmed the “willingness to honor the treaties”.
“We have to prepare for a supply interruption,” warned the EU Commissioner.
Several member states have asked for clarification on paying in rubles by opening a special account, and Kadri Simson promised “detailed clarification to explain to companies what they can and cannot do”.
Poland and Bulgaria paid for their purchases in the currency stipulated in their contracts with Russian gas giant Gazprom and refused to open a second ruble account. The Russian gas company retaliated by shutting down supplies after payment had not been made.
“There are no immediate supply risks,” assured the commissioner. “But we will not be able to replace the 150 billion cubic meters of gas bought from Russia with other sources. It’s not sustainable,” she admitted.
“We can handle the replacement of 2/3 of Russia’s gas supply,” she said.
Kadri Simson stressed that Member States need to replenish their reserves and Barbara Pompili stressed the need to “diversify the way electricity and heat are produced”.
“Europe must get rid of dependence on Russian fossil fuels,” said Polish Minister Anna Moskva. “Our reserves will be at 100% utilization for this winter,” she said. “American LNG has started arriving via Lithuania and we will ship gas from Norway via Denmark,” she explained.
– Finalization of the oil embargo –
Ministers also exchanged views on an EU plan to phase out purchases of Russian oil and petroleum products in order to dry up European funding for the Kremlin-led war in Ukraine. But no decision has been made yet.