• Natural Gas News

    Fortum refuses to invest in Uniper bail-out: press


Finnish state-owned utility says it has already offered €8bn in loans and guarantees.

by: Callum Cyrus

Posted in:

Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), News By Country, Finland

Fortum refuses to invest in Uniper bail-out: press

Finnish-German utility Uniper is seeking a state bailout to cover losses caused by the sharp drop in Russian gas flows into Germany and soaring energy costs, but the proposal has been complicated by a dispute concerning its Finnish majority shareholder, Reuters reported July 9.

German economy and energy minister Robert Habeck wants Fortum, the Finnish state-owned energy company that owns 69.6% interest in Uniper, to make a financial contribution to the rescue package. And Habeck faces a tall order in presenting the bailout to the German public. Berlin has asked German citizens to take shorter showers in a bid to reduce gas demand, in a desperate attempt to reduce the need for Russian imports.

"Uniper belongs to someone, someone who is solvent and can provide support," said Habeck. "So it is right to consider models where the owners also bear an obligation."

Fortum says it has already provided Uniper with €8bn in loans and financial guarantees. It says Berlin's bailout would massively improve Uniper's creditworthiness, helping Uniper contend with tighter gas markets, especially if European wholesale prices surge further in coming months.

In a statement emailed to Reuters, Fortum's CEO Markus Rauram said: "The German security of supply businesses need to be owned by the federal state that has the required strong creditworthiness, since gas prices might continue to rise".

Future contracts on the Dutch TTF marketplace receded to 175 ($177) /MWh on July 8 from 183/MWh the previous day, but this is still substantially above the 81/MWh recorded on June 8.

Germany is spending €15bn of public money to secure non-Russian gas flows, as Berlin scrambles to ensure its gas storages are ready for the coming winter demand season. If gas prices rise even further, Habeck has warned even this splurge of state support might not be enough.

Gazprom delivers Russian gas to Germany mainly through the 55bn m3/yr Nord Stream pipeline. A fault at one of Nord Stream's compressor station turbines led Gazprom to send equipment to Siemens in Canada for repairs. Siemens says the turbine cannot be returned due to Western sanctions on Russian trade.

Canada granted a special sanctions exemption for the turbine on July 9. Gazprom is expected to shut down Nord Stream completely today for a 10-day planned maintenance turnaround.