(Bloomberg) -- Italian energy giant Eni SpA is poised to comply with Russian demands and open a bank account in rubles, after the European Union softened its stance in a standoff with the Kremlin over crucial gas supplies.
According to people familiar with the situation, Eni will move to open accounts in rubles and euros with Gazprombank by Wednesday so that it can make payments on time this month and avoid any risks to gas supplies.
President Vladimir Putin threw the gas market and policy makers into disarray at the end of March when he demanded that gas be paid for in rubles, or flows would be cut off. For weeks, European companies and their lawyers have been figuring out how to meet his demand without breaching sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for the war in Ukraine.
Poland refused to engage with the new terms and its gas was promptly cut off. But other companies have seen ambiguity in the guidance issued by the European Union and are trying to maintain business as usual.
EU officials had said -- though only verbally -- that opening a ruble account would breach sanctions. But the latest guidelines, expected to be published this week, stop short of banning ruble accounts, and offer companies a roadmap to keep buying Russian gas.
One of the people familiar with the situation said the company was waiting for those guidelines to be formally published before acting.
An Eni spokesman said the company doesn’t comment on rumor and has not started the procedure for opening two accounts.
Read: EU Drafts Plan for Buying Russian Gas Without Breaking Sanctions
The EU had initially objected to the Kremlin demand as it considered the move gave too much power to the Russian side and also involved the central bank -- an entity the bloc had sanctioned.
Gazprom PJSC has since made attempts to reassure European companies they can keep buying the gas without breaking the rules, and the Kremlin also published a new order clarifying the initial March decree. Now the central bank appears not to be involved in the transaction.
German giant Uniper SE and Austria’s OMV AG have also said they expect gas purchases to continue. European gas prices fell on Monday.
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