Uniper seeks billions of euros in compensation from Gazprom

DUESSELDORF, Germany, Nov 30 (Reuters) - German utility Uniper (UN01.DE) has launched an arbitration process in the hope of securing billions of euros in compensation from Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM) over undelivered gas volumes, Uniper CEO Klaus-Dieter Maubach said on Wednesday.

Gazprom's export arm denied it was in breach of contract regarding gas supplies to Uniper and said it did not accept the legality of the company's claims.

Uniper, which is in the process of being nationalised in a state bailout to survive the energy crisis triggered by the Ukraine war, puts the cost of replacing Russian gas at around 11.6 billion euros ($12.02 billion) to date.

"The arbitration will take place in Stockholm and will be negotiated under Swiss law," Maubach said.

The arbitration will not be carried out by an official body but would depend on both sides agreeing to meet with lawyers in a neutral setting, along the lines of private mediation processes customary in many industries, Uniper said.

Uniper said the costs related to the Russian gas would continue to grow until the end of 2024. Maubach said he hoped the company would return to profit the following year.

In the first nine months of 2022, the company reported a 40 billion euro ($39.3 billion) net loss, the biggest in German corporate history.

"It's about gas volumes that were contractually agreed with Gazprom but not delivered and for which we had to procure replacements at extremely high market prices and still have to do so," Maubach said in a statement.

"We are pursuing these legal proceedings with all due vigor: We owe this to our shareholders, our employees and the taxpayers," he added.

The export arm of Gazprom said it intended to defend itself.

Uniper also announced measures to further ringfence its Russian business Unipro, which has been up for sale since mid-2021.

While a local buyer has been found, the company said political approval for the transaction was "outstanding and uncertain".

($1 = 0.9653 euros)

Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff, additional reporting by Vera Eckert, Writing by Madeline Chambers, Rachel More Editing by Paul Carrel and Jane Merriman

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