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Polish households left without gas as Austria caves in to pay in rubles for Russian gas

Polish households left without gas

Poland’s Deputy Minister of the Interior and Administration Paweł Szefernaker said on Thursday that several dozen municipalities, were left without liquefied gas because of sanctions imposed by Warsaw on Russian energy giant Novatek. 

“At the moment, we are trying to find ways to solve this problem and resume gas supplies to areas where blue fuel was supplied by a Russian company that fell under sanctions,” Szefernaker said as quoted by media.

He explained that after the introduction of sanctions, Novatek’s subsidiary Novatek Green Energy suspended gas supplies to several dozen Polish municipalities. 

The ministry could not inform the regional authorities about the sanctions in advance, since “decisions to include firms on the list of enterprises covered by sanctions were made behind closed doors,” Szefernaker reportedly said.

To restore the gas supply, authorities intend to seize the infrastructure owned by the Russian firm. According to Deputy Interior Minister Maciej Wonsik, a group of experts is preparing materials for the prime minister so that he can “issues a decision on the basis of the law on crisis management that Polish companies take over the gas infrastructure and supply gas to these communes.”

Wonsik added: “Of course, it is strange that this infrastructure is in the hands of a Russian firm.”

This week, Polish authorities announced sanctions on 50 Russian legal entities and individuals, including companies Acron, Gazprom and Novatek.

Austria will pay in rubles for Russian gas – official

Austria has accepted the new ruble gas payment mechanism, introduced by Russia earlier this month, and will abide by it, Chancellor Karl Nehammer announced on Wednesday.

We, that is, [state energy company] OMV, accepted the terms of payment, as did the German government. They [the terms] were found to be in line with the terms of the sanctions. For us, this was important,” Nehammer said at a press conference.

He added, however, that Austria still supports Ukraine-related anti-Russia sanctions.

“Before the fake news of Russian propaganda steps in,” he stressed, “of course, OMV continues to pay for gas supplies from Russia in euros. Austria adheres to the point of view and supports the jointly adopted EU sanctions.

According to the official, Austrian oil and gas company OMV has already opened an appropriate account with a Russian bank for transferring payments. Nehammer noted that during his recent trip to Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin explained the new payment mechanism and assured him of further gas supplies in full.

On March 31, Putin signed a decree that defined a new procedure for paying for Russian gas supplies by buyers from ‘unfriendly’ countries, which placed sanctions on Moscow in response to its military operation in Ukraine.

The news puzzled Russia’s gas buyers, who feared that they would be expected to pay for the commodity in Russian rubles. However, according to the document, buyers will be able to pay in their currency of choice but will have to open a ruble account in Russia’s Gazprombank so that the payments can be converted into rubles and reach Russian gas providers.

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