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Gazprom Export makes first ever ruble gas sale with western European buyer

London β€” Russia's Gazprom Export said Thursday it had made its first ever sale of gas to a western European company priced in rubles, as the company continues to use its Electronic Sales Platform (ESP) as a tool for diversifying its European gas sales.

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Gazprom Export traditionally sells gas to European buyers in US dollars or euros, but on Thursday completed a sale on the ESP in the Russian currency for 80 million cu m of gas to be delivered to the German NCG hub.

The gas is to be delivered later in March.

"Today's test deal has not just commercial but a highly symbolic meaning," Gazprom Export CEO Elena Burmistrova said in a statement.

"For the first time in Gazprom Export's history, a western European company buys gas and pays in rubles for it. We plan to further develop sales in rubles through the ESP," Burmistrova said.

The volume of the ruble-priced gas sale -- 80 million cu m -- is relatively high. The biggest total daily sale on the ESP in 2019 to date was for 82 million cu m on January 18.

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Gazprom Export began gas sales on its bespoke ESP at the end of September and has sold gas to more than 20 customers.

According to S&P Global Platts calculations, a total of 2.8 Bcm has been sold on the ESP since it began.

At the time of its launch in August last year, Burmistrova said the ESP would improve interaction with its European customers and allow for gas supply optimization.

The ESP replaced Gazprom Export's email-based auctions that took place in the summers of 2015 and 2016 and which saw 1-2 Bcm of additional gas sold in Europe.

The sales offer buyers additional flexibility around their Russian gas purchases and gives Gazprom Export the opportunity to sell additional volumes to customers directly outside of the long-term contract model.

-- Stuart Elliott, stuart.elliott@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Leech, newsdesk@spglobal.com