10 European gas buyers opened accounts in Gazprom Bank, doubling the total number of customers who They are preparing to pay in rubles for Russian gas in compliance with the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This raised the number of European companies that opened accounts with Gazprom Bank to 20, with other requests for about 14 additional European customers, according to Bloomberg Agency, citing sources who refused to reveal the names of the companies, and Al Arabiya.net reviewed it.
It comes as European buyers have been struggling for weeks to see how they can fulfill Putin’s order to pay for Russian gas in rubles, starting on April 1, and not conflict with EU sanctions imposed over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Under the new mechanism, customers are required to open two accounts: one in foreign currency and the other in rubles at Gazprom Bank.
After Poland and Bulgaria rejected these terms, Gazprom halted gas flows to it in late April.
With deadlines to pay April supplies looming later this month for major Western European buyers, Russia has moved to address EU concerns that the payment mechanism may violate sanctions.
A source close to Gazprom said that the current conditions mean that the deal is effectively completed, as once the European buyer pays foreign currency to Gazprom Bank, the money is transferred in rubles automatically.
The bloc has not yet said whether the Russian changes ease its concerns, but Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Wednesday that companies would be able to pay for gas in rubles without breaching restrictions.
“Most of the gas importers have already opened their ruble accounts with Gazprom,” he added during a press conference. He said Germany’s largest gas importer had already paid in rubles.
Bloomberg sources revealed that the number of customers who paid in rubles remains at 4, the same number as late last month.
He said payments from other buyers are due later this month.
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