Germany and Austria Seek Stronger Cooperation on Energy Security

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: July 15, 2022; 16:05 ♦ (Vindobona)

Germany and Austria, seeking closer cooperation between the two countries in the current energy crisis, signed a joint declaration this week to mitigate the looming energy crisis.

Germany and Austria signed a joint declaration in Vienna. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Dragan Tatic

In order to better cushion the looming energy crisis, Germany and Austria signed a joint declaration in Vienna this week that seeks closer cooperation between the two countries in the current energy crisis.

Robert Habeck, Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, represented Germany and Leonore Gewessler, Federal Minister responsible for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology signed for Austria.

This is not the first agreement of its kind. Germany and Austria already concluded a bilateral solidarity agreement at the beginning of December 2021 to deal with a severe gas shortage in the sense of the so-called European SoS Regulation and now want to further deepen their cooperation.

Specifically, this involves deepening cooperation on the use of LNG infrastructures and on the topic of storage filling with a view to the 7 Fields and Haidach storage facilities located in Austria, both of which are also directly connected to the German network.

Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck: "European solidarity is more important than ever in the current energy crisis. This also includes closer coordination between direct neighbours. Europe will not be divided by Russia's actions. On the contrary: we are working with even more determination to overcome our dependence on Russian energy sources as quickly as possible. Through closer cooperation between neighbouring states, we are also strengthening resilience throughout the EU. Germany and Austria are working closely and resolutely together. In the short term to increase our preparedness by filling storage facilities more quickly. In the medium term, to secure the security of our energy supply in the long term through more speed in the expansion of renewable energies, energy saving and the ramp-up of green hydrogen."

"We are currently facing a major common challenge throughout Europe: only if we succeed in freeing ourselves from Vladimir Putin's grip will there be independence and freedom for our countries. This conviction unites us both. For this reason, I am pleased that the German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck and I were able to sign a joint declaration today that affirms precisely this. We will not allow ourselves to be divided in this difficult situation and are strengthening our cooperation in three very specific areas: On the transit rights for natural gas, on the use of natural gas storage facilities, and on the joint diversification of our gas supply," Gewessler said.

Major step for future gas diversification in Austria

Shortly after the signing of the declaration, OMV announced in Austria that it had booked extensive transport capacities for non-Russian natural gas for the coming gas year from October 2022 to September 2023.

A corresponding auction had ended in the previous days and OMV had been able to purchase capacities for 40 terawatt hours of natural gas. This is then to be delivered from Norway or Italy, for example. A prerequisite for this step was the comprehensive support of the Federal Government through the Gas Diversification Act.

The booking was made at the two transfer points Oberkappel and Arnoldstein. There, liquefied gas from Italian terminals and natural gas from Norway, among others, can be transported to Austria. OMV also owns a large gas production facility in Norway.

40 TWh correspond to about 45 percent of Austria's total annual consumption of natural gas. This is an important step towards significantly reducing dependence on Russia. Last year, Austria still purchased about 60 TWh of natural gas from Russia.

Current gas deliveries from Russia increased

In contrast to Germany, which was able to curb its gas supplies from Russia, Austria's dependence on Russia has apparently increased in recent months, from 80% to 87%.

This is according to the Standard newspaper, from the country's foreign trade statistics analysed by the director of Neos Lab, Lukas Sustala. However, the last accessible data is from April 2022 and therefore not entirely up to date. This means that the share of Russian gas in total consumption in Austria actually rose to 97 percent.

BMK - Federal Ministry for Climate Action Environment Energy Mobility Innovation Technology