Russian gas giant Gazprom makes £39m profit in North Sea

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By Ben King
Business reporter, BBC News

Russian energy giant Gazprom earned €45m (£39m) from its gas field in the North Sea last year, accounts show.

Gazprom has been producing gas from the Sillimanite field, which is spread across UK and Dutch waters, since 2020.

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats said it was “totally unacceptable” that gas from UK territory was supporting “Putin’s illegal war against Ukraine”.

The government said it would “ratchet up economic pressure” on Russia.

The Sillimanite field, which is 200km from the Dutch coast, is operated in a joint venture between Russian firm Gazprom and German company Wintershall. Gas produced from the field is taken onshore in the Netherlands.

While there is no suggestion the arrangement is illegal, the UK, the US and the EU have introduced tough economic sanctions designed to restrict Russia’s ability to profit from energy exports, aimed at limiting its ability to fund its war in Ukraine.

A number of Gazprom executives, including the chief executive Alexei Miller, are under sanctions from the UK government, though Gazprom itself is not. The company still supplies gas to continental Europe via pipelines, though the volumes are much reduced since the war began.

Accounts show that Gazprom International UK, a subsidiary of the Russia energy giant, made a pre-tax profit of €45m in 2022, and paid a €41m dividend to Gazprom International Projects BV, the company’s immediate owner in the Netherlands. A further dividend of €1.7m was paid in June this year.

The company’s ultimate owner is PJSC Gazprom, based in Moscow.

Gazprom is majority-owned by the Russian state, and is the country’s largest taxpayer, contributing $80bn (£63bn) to the Russian government, according to the state news agency TASS. It has also recruited and financed its own militias which have fought on the frontline in Ukraine.

Sir Ed, a former energy secretary, said it was “totally unacceptable that gas taken from UK territory is bolstering the coffers of Putin’s illegal war against Ukraine”.

Campaign group Global Witness called it “an indictment of the UK’s approach to Russian oil and gas”.

“Whilst the government decries the war, it’s absurd to allow the subsidiary of a Russian state enterprise which has its own militia fighting in Ukraine to enrich Putin’s regime from the North Sea,” it added.

A government spokesman it would “continue to work alongside our partners to deny Russia access to any of our goods or technologies that it could use in its war machine, restricting Russia’s ability to fight a 21st century war”.

“Putin and his supporters must – and will – pay the price for their illegal invasion of Ukraine,” he added.

“We will continue to ratchet up economic pressure and come down hard on all emerging forms of circumvention until Ukraine prevails and peace is secured.”

The company’s total tax bill was €29m, divided between the UK and Dutch governments. This includes €4m under the UK windfall tax imposed on energy companies after prices surged following the war in Ukraine, and €5m under the Dutch equivalent.

All Gazprom International UK’s revenues are from sales outside the UK, the accounts say. The company ended its agreement to sell gas to Wintershall in September this year, and replaced it by an agreement to sell gas to the Swiss-based trading company Gunvor, the accounts show.

Gazprom’s UK energy supply business, which had thousands of business customers, was nationalised by the German government last year when its parent company was close to bankruptcy. It has been renamed SEFE Energy.

Wintershall and Gazprom didn’t respond to to the BBC’s requests for comment.

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