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RWE expects clarity soon on Russian gas payment as deadline nears

Stock Markets May 12, 2022 11:12
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Steam rises from the cooling towers of the coal power plant of RWE, one of Europe's biggest electricity and gas companies in Niederaussem, Germany, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

By Christoph Steitz and Tom Käckenhoff

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Germany's top power producer, RWE, expects Berlin to soon clarify whether payments for Russian gas can be made under a new scheme proposed by Moscow, its finance chief said on Thursday, as a deadline approaches at the end of the month.

Russia's demand that future payments for its most precious fossil fuel be made in roubles has been rejected by most European gas buyers over the details of the process, which requires opening accounts with Gazprombank.

That has fuelled fears about potential supply disruptions should buyers refuse to meet the guidelines to avoid breaching sanctions, which could have far-reaching consequences for Europe and Germany, in particular, which relies heavily on Russian gas.

"As you can imagine, we are in very close contact with the political authorities," Michael Mueller told journalists after unveiling a jump of 65% in first-quarter adjusted core profit.

"We assume that a clarification will be made shortly," he said, without elaborating.

Like peer Uniper, RWE faces a payment obligation for Russian gas at the end of this month, leaving little time to prepare for the new scheme in the absence of government advice.

RWE said it wrote down down 850 million euros ($894 million) over Russian coal supplies, ahead of an EU-wide ban on the fuel due to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

RWE has contracts covering deliveries of 12 million tonnes of Russian hard coal through to 2025, it said in its quarterly report, adding that these deliveries had already stopped.

RWE said in March it would not enter into new supply deals with Russian counterparties and had decided to end all non-energy ties with counterparties there with immediate effect.

Apart from coal, its commodity exposure also includes 15 terawatt hours (TWh) of gas deliveries by 2023, which it has reduced to 4 TWh since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special military operation".

RWE's first-quarter adjusted core earnings were driven by stronger winds and a lower base. Last year, profits were burdened by a 400-million-euro hit, owing to extreme weather in the United States.

($1=0.9508 euros)

RWE expects clarity soon on Russian gas payment as deadline nears
 

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