Half of Gazprom’s 54 clients opened Gazprombank accounts, says Russia’s Novak

(Reuters) – Half of Russian gas giant Gazprom (MCX:)’s 54 clients have opened accounts at Gazprombank, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday, as Moscow seeks to compel its clients to pay for its gas in roubles.

Russia halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland in April after they refused to meet its demand that European buyers start paying for Russian gas in roubles, raising fears that other states could be next.

Finland’s state-owned energy provider Gasum refused to switch to the new scheme and said this week it would take its dispute over rouble payments with Russia’s Gazprom Export to arbitration proceedings.

Novak told a forum on Thursday that some big companies had already paid for Russian gas under the new scheme and that Moscow would soon know definitively which companies paid and which refused to do so.

“Gas payments under main contracts are due … and there is information that some big companies already opened accounts, paid (gas bills) and are ready to pay on time,” Novak told a forum. “In the next couple of days we will see a final list of who’s paid in roubles and who’s refused.”

Nearly all the supply contracts EU companies have with Gazprom are in euros or dollars and some top Western companies have already opened accounts at Gazprombank.