Times are tough for Uniper. The German energy giant is paying a high price for the energy crisis that has threatened the country since the outbreak of war in Ukraine on February 24. And for good reason, ” to meet contracts with its customers, Uniper was and is forced to purchase gas at high market prices », explains the company. More concretely, because of the drop in supply from Russia, Uniper can no longer rely on long-term price agreements and has had to buy expensive gas on the spot to compensate for the shortfall.
However, the price of hydrocarbons continues to climb. On Tuesday, it reached its highest level in six months in Europe. Historically, it had only been higher in two sessions, at the beginning of March, when the economic sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine upset the market.
12.3 billion euros net loss
If Uniper is weakened by accounting adjustments linked to the reduction in deliveries, it is also suffering from the shutdown of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, these two factors having weighed several billion euros on the result. The project of this pharaonic gas pipeline supposed to connect Russia to Europe in particular Germany and exploited by the Russian giant Gazprom, was, indeed, suspended shortly after the Russian invasion in Ukraine. It had been co-financed by five European energy groups, including Uniper.
Consequently, the German gas company announced results that were not very encouraging on Tuesday. It posted a net loss of 12.3 billion euros in the first half. If it says it expects an annual loss, without quantifying it, it nevertheless anticipates an improvement in the result in 2023 and a return to profits in 2024. ” For months, Uniper has played a vital role in stabilizing gas supply — and doing so at the cost of billions of euros in losses »explains the boss, Klaus-Dieter Maubach, in a press release.
Figures that do not bode any short-term improvement in the situation of Uniper, which is already the subject of a rescue plan by the State to guarantee its solvency. At the end of July, Berlin had, in fact, decided to inject billions of euros to save the first importer and storer of gas in Germany from bankruptcy. This rescue plan provides in particular for the State to increase the group’s capital to 30%, which will go through “a capital increase of approximately 267 million euros for an issue price of 1.70 euros per share”, had detailed the group at the end of July. Uniper will also benefit from a public loan of “up to 7.7 billion euros” into mandatory convertible bonds, i.e. which will eventually become shares. An extension to “9 billion euros” the emergency line of credit, currently at 2 billion euros, will be released from the public bank KfW, the company added. “Uniper is a company of paramount importance for the economic development of our country and for the energy supply of citizens”had justified Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who had personally undertaken to avoid a bankruptcy of the group which would threaten, by domino effect, to dislocate the energy market and to involve shortages of energy for thousands of customers.
And taxpayers will also have to put their hands in the wallet: gas importers and distributors, including Uniper, are, in fact, authorized to pass on to their customers, from October 1, the increase in gas prices, which has been multiplied by eight. They will be able to collect 2.4 centimes more per kilowatt hour (KWh) of gas from companies and individuals. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, however, assured that the government was considering aid measures. The leader also stressed that the German government’s decision to take a stake in Uniper was necessary but not eternal.