The British government has stripped Putin-dependent energy giant Gazprom of its right to raise funds on London’s globe-spanning capital markets. Meanwhile its UK arm has lost at least one public sector customer in response to Moscow’s violation of Ukraine.
The Foreign Office and Treasury confirmed the ban yesterday in an updated Russian sanctions list. Along with rival Rosneft and Russian banks, Gazprom is named in an extended list.
A D-BEIS spokesperson confirmed to a source that “Russian gas giant Gazprom has been sanctioned by the UK government and will no longer be able to issue debt or equity in the UK”.
Trading in the UK since 2006, Gazprom Energy has grown to become one of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers to industry and organisations. Analysts Cornwall Insight put its market share at around 20%. It is headed in St Petersburg by Putin associate Alexei Miller.
Two English councils meanwhile are on the point of tearing up contracts with the Putin-allied concern.
Suffolk County Council has confirmed the termination of its Gazprom contract, held via facilities management company Vertas. Negotiated three years ago, it was set to run until October 2023.
Council leader Matthew Hicks explained; ‘When Vladimir Putin made the immoral and utterly reprehensible decision to invade Ukraine, I instructed officers last week to review our contract with Russian-owned energy company Gazprom’.
‘I can confirm that we have decided to invoke our options to break away from the contract, ending our connection with Gazprom. Working with our partners, we are actively pursuing this outcome.
This morning Cllr Hicks tweeted: “Important we all play our part in helping to bring to an end this act of aggression on a free and peaceful nation and its innocent people.”
According to the council, from April 2022 all of the local authority’s electricity will be from UK clean renewable sources, supplied by EDF for the next three years.
In East Sussex Wealden District Council is also considering breaking with Gazprom. The council has three contracts to heat retirement living complexes, and running until 2024.
Germany’s Schröder, the Putin ‘appeaser’
‘At the time of procurement, Gazprom put forward the best case to supply services in accordance with the legal obligation on local authorities to obtain best value,’ a council spokesperson said.
‘By law, a local authority cannot discriminate against an economic operator for non-commercial reasons, such as country of origin, political affiliation or involvement with governmental policy, other than if directed by policy of central Government.’
The spokesperson confirmed that Wealden’s legal and procurement teams ‘are currently looking into the issue.’
In Germany, former chancellor Gerhard Schröder remains under intense criticism for chairing Gazprom in continental Europe.
In the wake of last week’s invasion and Berlin’s suspension of Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the former head of government is discredited with others as a “Putin understander”, a euphemism for ‘appeaser’.
At a fiery SPD conference at the weekend Rainer Arnold, a former MP and defence spokesperson reportedly called on Schröder to “save the SPD and yourself further sustained embarrassing and excruciating debates about your egotistical engagement with Putin, a man whose interests are just as egotistical as well as inhuman.”
Following speculation, Exxon Mobil confirmed today it is pulling out of all operations in Russia. As reported by Russia’s government-controlled news agency TASS, the giant announced on its website: “In response to recent events, we are beginning the process to discontinue operations and developing steps to exit the Sakhalin-1 venture,”
“Given the current situation, ExxonMobil will not invest in new developments in Russia”
The US company’s decision today puts further pressure on TotalEnergies, the last of Big Oil’s “seven sisters” yet to declare its withdrawal from Russia.
That’s good news some councils are cancelling on Gazprom UK. Would be even better if some of Gazprom’s very large commercial customers also do the right thing – a large burger chain is amongst them I believe.
Through our energy bills, Europe is paying Putin to make war on Europe. Surely no one in the UK should be contributing to that.