Russia cuts gas to Dutch energy company and Denmark could be next

The Netherlands and Denmark have refused Vladimir Putin's demand to pay for Russian gas with roubles

The Gazprom logo at a business centre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Reuters
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Russia will cut natural gas supplied through pipelines to the Netherlands and Denmark could be next.

GasTerra said shipments would stop on Tuesday after it rejected new payment terms imposed by President Vladimir Putin. Russian company Gazprom confirmed the supply cut.

Denmark’s Orsted said it was preparing for a cut as the company, best known for its wind-power business, also refused to give in.

Russia imposed new payments terms on European companies, which include opening an account in roubles with Gazprombank.

Traders have been closely watching payment disputes, with Gazprom having already stopped supplies to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland as a result.

“GasTerra will not go along with Gazprom’s payment demands,” the company said on its website.

“This is because to do so would risk breaching sanctions imposed by the EU and also because there are too many financial and operational risks associated with the required payment route.”

European nations are split over how to handle Moscow’s demand, and utilities have responded to the challenge differently.

Major buyers such as Italy’s Eni and Germany’s Uniper have said they have found a solution to pay and expect supplies to continue.

A gas production plant in Groningen, the Netherlands. Reuters

Orsted’s payment deadline is Tuesday and the company will continue to pay in euros.

“There is a risk that Gazprom Export will stop supplying gas to Orsted,” the company said.

Countries still can receive Russian liquefied natural gas as Mr Putin’s demands for roubles covered only supplies from Gazprom.

They have all also said that they can cope without the fuel, using alternatives.

Buy worries of a potential supply crunch this winter remain.

The halt in supplies to GasTerra means about 2 billion cubic metres of gas will not be delivered between now and October 1, when the company’s contract with the Russian energy giant was set to expire, the Dutch company said.

That is just more than 1 per cent of Russia’s total supplies to the EU last year.

“The European gas market is highly integrated and extensive,” GasTerra said.

“However, it is impossible to predict how the lost supply of 2 billion cubic metres of Russian gas will affect the supply-demand situation and whether the European market can absorb this loss of supply without serious consequences.”

Orsted has a long-term contract for 20 terawatt-hours a year, or about 1.9 billion cubic metres, with Gazprom that is set to expire at the end of the decade.

While that is just a fraction of EU’s gas imports, it accounts for more than 80 per cent of the 24 terawatt-hours of the fuel that Denmark imported from Moscow in the same period.

Overall, Denmark’s gas imports make up a relatively small portion of European demand so that should not be too difficult to source in the market, according to Stefan Ulrich, an analyst at BloombergNEF.

Orsted had already said it planned to buy far less than the maximum allowed by the contract.

“You’re really talking about small quantities of gas which really won’t change the European balance all that much,” Mr Ulrich said.

Denmark and the Netherlands also rely on domestic production, but that has been declining for years and is not enough to cover consumption in full.

Updated: May 30, 2022, 10:26 PM