Austria's OMV plans rouble accounts for Russian gas - FT

The logo of Austrian oil and gas group OMV is pictured on an oil tank at the refinery in Schwechat, Austria, October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

April 28 (Reuters) - Austrian energy group OMV (OMVV.VI), one of the largest importers of Russian gas, is preparing to open rouble accounts at Gazprombank in Switzerland, the Financial Times said on Thursday, citing people with knowledge of the preparations.

Russian energy giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) told Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday it will halt gas supplies after they did not meet Moscow's demand for payment in roubles, escalating a row with Western countries that oppose its invasion of Ukraine. L2N2WP1MN

Austria's government responded on Wednesday that Russian natural gas deliveries to the country continued unrestricted and there was no indication that would change, while it was scrambling to find alternative sources. read more

The FT said Italy's Eni, another of Gazprom's large customers, was evaluating its options. The Italian government-backed company has until the end of May, when its next payment for Russian supplies is due, to make a final call, the newspaper said, citing Italian officials.

An OMV spokesperson told Reuters the company was working on a sanctions-compliant solution but declined to specify whether this meant using accounts as the FT reported. Eni declined to comment.

Germany's Uniper (UN01.DE) will transfer payments for Russian gas to a Russian bank and no longer to a Europe-based bank, the power utility told the newspaper Rheinische Post on Thursday. read more

Reporting by Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich in Vienna; Editing by William Mallard

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