Eni said in a statement on Tuesday it was opening accounts in rubles and euros with Gazprom Bank “on a precautionary basis” as “deadlines for the payment of gas supplies are scheduled for the next few days”.
It was not immediately clear whether the move would fall foul of European Union sanctions, although Eni said it was “not incompatible”.
The company said its decision to open the accounts was “taken in compliance with the current international sanctions framework” and that Italian authorities had been informed.
EU officials had said opening a ruble account would breach sanctions. But its latest guidelines, to be published this week, are expected to stop short of banning bank accounts in rubles and therefore allow companies to keep buying Russian gas, Bloomberg reports.
But the Italian government has so far resisted calls to boycott Russian oil and gas.
Italy is highly dependent on Russian gas, importing 95 percent of the gas it consumes, of which around 40 percent comes from Russia.