OSLO – Russia’s Gazprom cut off gas exports to neighboring Finland on Saturday in the latest escalation of energy disputes with the West.
Gazprom Exports has claimed that European countries will pay for the supply of Russian gas in rubles due to sanctions imposed on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but Finland has refused to do so.
Gazprom’s move comes as Finland is applying to join the NATO military alliance, a decision that has been prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Finnish gas system operator Gasgrid Finland said in a statement on Saturday that “gas imports through the Ematra entry point have been stopped.”
Imatra is the gateway to Russian gas in Finland.
Gasum, a Finnish state-owned gas wholesaler, said on Friday that Gazprom had warned that the flow would be cut off from 0400 GMT on Saturday morning.
Gasum and Gazprom confirmed on Saturday that the flow had stopped.
“Natural gas supplies to Finland have been cut off under the Gasum supply agreement,” Gasum said in a statement.
“Starting today, in the coming summer season, Gasum will supply its customers with natural gas from other sources through the Baltic connecting pipeline.”
The Balticconnector connects Finland to the gas grid of neighboring Estonia.
On Friday, Gazprom Exports said that the flow would be reduced because Gasum did not comply with the new Russian rules, requiring a settlement in rubles.
Most of the gas used in Finland comes from Russia, but gas accounts for about 5% of its annual energy consumption.
Most European supply agreements are marked in euros or dollars, and Moscow has already cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland because they have refused to comply with the new payment terms.
Gasum, the Finnish government and Finland’s independent gas consumer companies have said they were ready to cut off Russian flows and operate without the country.
“The Finnish gas system is physically and commercially balanced,” Gasgrid said Saturday.
Finland said on Friday it had agreed to charter a storage and regasification ship from US-based Accelerate Energy to help replace Russian supplies starting in the fourth quarter of this year.
The ship is super-cooled, liquefied natural gas (LNG), which enters the ship, is converted back to regular gas. (Edited by Gwladys Fouche; Edited by David Evans)