OMV Warns Gazprom May Halt Gas Supplies

(Reuters) — Austrian oil and gas group OMV said on Wednesday that gas supplies from Russia's Gazprom may be suspended in connection with a foreign court ruling, without identifying the case but assuring the market it would have replacement cover.

The Vienna-based company said in a statement on its website that it had learned of the possible suspension through a ruling obtained by a major European energy company, which it did not name.

If enforced, the ruling would oblige OMV's subsidiary, OMV Gas Marketing & Trading (OGMT), to pay that company, in lieu of Gazprom.

"In this respect, it is currently not known to OGMT whether and when such an enforcement might occur," the statement said.

OMV added it will be able to supply its contractual customers with gas from alternative sources because it had diversified its supply base with other origins, such as Norway, and with liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the world market.

It declined to comment any further when approached about details. Contractual relationships between European gas importers, traders and wholesalers are complex and intricate.

Gazprom did not respond to a request for comment.

OGMT said it is likely that Gazprom Export will halt supplying gas, thereby affecting the Austrian gas market, saying it based that assessment on Gazprom Export's conduct in similar situations.

Most Russian westward gas exports were halted in the wake of Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine when Gazprom stopped deliveries and western countries severed ties, or introduced sanctions, against energy shipments out of Russia.

The disruption has triggered legal disputes involving giant sums of cash, with Russia claiming money for dormant contracts and buyers demanding repayment after non-receipt of deliveries.

Uniper Declines Comment

Rowing parties include Germany's Uniper , which was bailed out by the German government in 2022 after it was brought down by costly spot market purchases to replace Russian gas to supply its customers.

A spokesperson for Uniper, asked about its possible involvement in the OMV case, declined updates on specific measures the company has taken with regard to Gazprom delivery defaults.

Uniper has said it expects a Stockholm tribunal verdict in the coming months over whether 250 terawatt hours (TWh) worth of contracts with Gazprom that still exist are cancelable.

Gazprom faces numerous legal battles with European buyers but is threatening fines should companies continue litigation outside Russia.

Austria's energy regulator E-Control said the possibility of a suspension of Gazprom exports had been factored into its winter 2024/25 and winter 2025/26 supply scenarios.

Alternative import routes were available through Italy and Germany and utilities had taken precautionary measures.

But prices could rise, said E-Control, criticizing in that context the announcement by Germany's Trading Hub Europe's (THE) on Tuesday that storage fees will be raised from July.

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