EXCLUSIVE German gas importer VNG to transfer euros to Russia for payment

DUESSELDORF, May 9 (Reuters) - Germany's VNG (VNG.UL) will transfer euro payments for Russian gas to Gazprombank (GZPRI.MM) in the future and expects no problems during a conversion to roubles, it said on Monday, meeting Moscow's key demands under a fresh payment scheme.

VNG's first detailed comments on the matter come as European buyers of Russian gas have to navigate a new set of rules Moscow has imposed to pay for its most precious commodity, most notably a demand to pay in roubles via an elaborate scheme.

European gas buyers are concerned that adopting the new measures, under which they have to open accounts at Gazprombank for future payments, could breach sanctions law and that rejecting them could trigger major gas supply disruptions.

VNG, which is majority-owned by German regional utility EnBW (EBKG.DE), said it was taking all necessary measures, in line with existing sanctions law, to continue to ensure supply and therefore economic stability in Germany.

"We will pay the invoice amount, which will continue to be denominated in euros, into the accounts at Gazprombank in accordance with the planned procedure, so that timely payment to our supplier is ensured on our part," VNG said in an emailed statement.

"We also assume that the conversion into roubles will not cause any difficulties. At least the opening of the account went completely smoothly."

The company did not respond to written follow-up questions asking to clarify whether it had opened two accounts with Gazprombank, one for euro payments and one for the rouble conversion.

Along with Uniper (UN01.DE) and RWE (RWEG.DE), VNG is one of Germany's top importers of Russian gas.

EnBW has said that 20% of the 495 terawatt hours of gas it procured last year came via direct agreements with Russian suppliers, adding those volumes would decrease from 2023 onward.

Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff and Christoph Steitz in Duesseldorf Editing by Matthew Lewis

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