By Christoph Steitz
FRANKFURT (Reuters) -German utility Uniper on Tuesday reported a 3 billion euro ($3.2 billion) net loss for the first quarter, citing impairment charges related to its Russian unit Unipro and its involvement in the suspended Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Germany's top importer of Russian gas said its operating performance was also negatively impacted by lower gas storage withdrawals, which resulted in lower profit but higher storage levels in the wake of potential disruptions of supplies.
"We have deliberately made this shift in results to take advantage of market opportunities and create additional value," Uniper finance chief Tiina Tuomela said.
"At the same time, it strengthens security of supply in Germany, as we have withdrawn less gas from our storage facilities."
Germany, which depends on Russia for most of its gas imports, has been struggling to fill its gas storage facilities in recent weeks, in a bid to prepare for a possible halt of supplies from Moscow.
Uniper had last month flagged that it would fully impair its 987 million euro loan it provided to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and that it had initiated a sales process for Unipro.
Overall, Uniper, which is majority-owned by Finland's Fortum, said overall impairments stood at around 2 billion euros in the first quarter.
As a result of not selling gas out of storage, Uniper swung to an adjusted loss before interest and tax of 830 million euros in the first quarter, compared with a year-earlier profit of 731 million.
"Against the background that this is a shift in earnings and not a loss ... we can confirm the earnings forecast for the current fiscal year," Tuomela said.
Uniper still expects adjusted operating profit of 1.0 billion to 1.3 billion euros and adjusted net profit of 0.8 billion to 1.1 billion in 2022.
($1 = 0.9399 euro)
(Reporting by Christoph Steitz in FrankfurtEditing by Jonathan Oatis, Lisa Shumaker and Matthew Lewis)