Russia plans to keep the contract currency for gas exports to Europe unchanged but will seek final payment in roubles as one of the options to switch the currency of gas trade, two Russian sources said on Wednesday.
President Vladimir Putin has said Russia, the world’s top natural gas producer, will soon require “unfriendly” countries to pay for fuel in roubles, raising alarm about a possible gas crunch in Europe.
“Only payment currency is changing, the contract currency is not,” one source said. For example, for deals clinched in euros the payment should be made at the official rouble/euro exchange rate set by the Russian central bank, that source said.
The Russian president told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz by phone on Wednesday that nothing would change for European partners and payments would still be made in euros and transferred to Gazprom bank, a German spokesperson said.
They added that Scholz is committed to a G7 agreement that energy supplies from Russia would be paid for only in euros or US dollars.
The proposed scheme is one of the options and is not final, the sources said. According to a third Russian source, Gazprombank, Russia’s third-biggest bank, could serve as an intermediary for transactions between the gas buyers and Gazprom.
The payment should be done in the rouble equivalent on a pre-agreed settlement day, the sources said.
“There is no final decision yet, the work is ongoing,” a financial source involved in drafting the gas payments scheme told Reuters. The central bank, Gazprom and Gazprombank did not reply to a request for a comment.
Moscow has yet to describe how it will go about the switch, which the Kremlin indicated on Wednesday could extend to Russia’s other exports, and the sources offered the first details that investor