LONDON (Business Insidder) - Russian energy-giant Gazprom said it has completely halted natural-gas supply to Shell under a contract that supplies the fuel to Germany, Europe’s largest economy. The move came after Shell refused to pay Gazprom in rubles.
Gazprom made the announcement on Wednesday — a day after it cut off natural-gas supplies to the Netherlands for the same reason.
In a March 31 decree, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that natural-gas payments be made in rubles, which would entail opening a euro and ruble account with the country’s Gazprombank to process payments.
Gazprom said in its Telegram channel on Tuesday that Shell Energy Europe had notified Gazprom “it does not intend to make payments under the contract for the supply of gas to Germany in rubles.”
“As of the end of the business day on May 31 (the payment deadline stipulated by the contract), Gazprom Export had not received payment from Shell Energy Europe Limited for gas supplies in April,” the Russian company wrote.
“Gazprom Export notified Shell Energy Europe Limited of the suspension of gas supplies under this contract from June 1, 2022” — until payment is made in rubles, the Russian company continued.
Contracts for Russian gas to Europe transported via pipelines are typically denominated in euros, according to the Financial Times.
Gazprom supplies up to 1.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year to Shell. That’s just 1.3% of the 95 billion cubic meters of natural gas Germany consumes each year, according to the country’s economy ministry.
While Shell has refused to pay Gazprom in rubles, Germany’s major natural-gas importers Uniper and DWE have paid for Russian fuel under Moscow’s new payment plan, Reuters reported.
Uniper is the largest importer of Russian gas in Germany. It depends on Russia for more than half of its natural-gas needs, according to Bloomberg. The German energy giant is also the country’s largest gas import and storage company, per the media outlet.
Germany could fall into a “significant recession” if supplies of Russian natural gas and oil are cut off, a top banker said in April. The economic powerhouse is heavily reliant on Russian gas, which accounted for 55% of Germany’s gas imports in 2021 and 40% of its gas imports in the first quarter of 2022, Reuters reported.
Germany’s economy ministry did immediately not respond to Insider’s request for comment sent outside regular business hours. A spokesperson for the German government told CNN on Tuesday it was “monitoring the situation very closely.”
Shell told Insider it “has not agreed to new payment terms set out by Gazprom.” The energy giant has also not opened any special accounts to process ruble payments.
“We will work to continue supplying our customers in Europe through our diverse portfolio of gas supply,” Shell added in a statement.
On Tuesday, Gazprom said it has fully suspended gas supplies to GasTerra due to the Dutch trader’s “failure to pay in rubles.” On Wednesday, the Russian gas company said it has also halted gas supplies to Danish power company Orsted as it, too, refused to pay in rubles.
Gazprom had earlier cut off gas supply to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland, as they all refused to pay in the Russian currency.