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energate Gasmarkt Issue 05|2022

Topic of the month: Trusteeship for Gazprom Germania

Dr. Heiko Lohmann Dr. Heiko Lohmann

The news that popped up on Friday 1 April sounded like an April Fool's joke: Gazprom Export has "terminated" its participation in Gazprom Germania (GPG). But the corresponding note from Gazprom Export was not a joke.

That Friday, I received several calls, emails and messages asking me if I knew who had taken over GPG, or what "participation terminated" actually meant? Like all other market participants, including the employees of Wingas, one of GPG's subsidiaries, I had no idea. Over the weekend, some light was shed on the matter, mainly through reports by the Bloomberg news agency. Control of GPG had been taken over by a company called Joint Stock Company Palmary. The owner of Palmary is unclear. Dmitry Tseplyaev had been the general director of the company since 30 March. According to various media, he had earned money in the past as a car dealer and DJ, among other things. Palmary's business premises in an industrial area of Moscow also seem rather bizarre. It is quite obviously a "straw-man construction". Over the weekend, there must have been many hectic telephone calls between representatives of the German government and representatives of the British and US governments on the question of the consequences of this alleged change of ownership on the companies of the GPG group. On Monday, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) reacted by placing GPG under the trusteeship of the BNetzA.

The Topic of the Month presents the developments in what is by far the most bizarre and, for the time being, the last chapter in German/European-Russian natural gas relations. I also spoke with a number of market participants about the possible background and consequences. In the conversations, it also became clear why the British and American governments got involved. In this edition, you can read about it yourself. I hope to contribute a little to explaining the situation, but some questions remain unanswered.

TOPIC OF THE MONTH: Trusteeship for Gazprom Germania

The following will deal with the last chapter of German-Russian gas relations for the time being. No market participant could have imagined such a chapter in his wildest dreams – or nightmares. 

1.1 What happened? To have an overview of the events around Gazprom Germania (GPG) at the end of March and beginning of April, I think it makes sense to present the chronology:

25 March: Gazprom Germania transfers its shares in the GPG Group to Gazprom Export Business Services. The company is wholly owned by Gazprom Export and was probably founded last autumn. The managing director is an old acquaintance of the German gas industry, Gennady Ryndin. He was financial director at Wingas until 2017 and has since been deputy general director for economics and finance at Gazprom Export. At Wingas, so the story goes, he had an excellent reputation. Until 2017, German and Russian managing directors worked very cooperatively with each other. 

31 March: Gazprom Export transfers all voting rights and a 0.1 per cent share in Gazprom Export Business Services to the joint-stock company Palmary. For more on Palmary, see the editorial. The remaining shares in Gazprom Export Business Services are taken over by the company itself...