Austrian Exit From Russian Gas Possible: "Major Effort Necessary"

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: May 19, 2022; 17:50 ♦ (Vindobona)

The exit from oil and gas supplies from Russia, which has been much called for at both national and international level, has been occupying the EU and also the Austrian government for weeks. Now the Austrian Energy Minister has presented a plan on how this planned phase-out can be achieved by 2027 and what concrete measures need to be taken to achieve it.

Austria is striving for independence from Russian gas and oil. / Picture: © Gazprom

In a question and answer session with Austrian Federal Minister Lenore Gewessler in the Austrian National Council, the existing plans to end dependence on fossil fuels and specifically on Russian gas were discussed.

In addition to the rapid filling of natural gas storage facilities, diversification is at the forefront in order to become less susceptible to blackmail, underlined the head of department responsible for climate protection, environment, energy, mobility, innovation and technology.

Only yesterday, the increase of the strategic gas reserve was decided in the Council of Ministers, with deliberate recourse to supplier countries other than Russia, if market prices allow it.

In addition, the connection of all domestic storage facilities to the Austrian Market Area East and the provision of unused capacities will be ensured. She referred in particular to the storage facility in Haidach, which is operated by Gazprom subsidiaries and is currently not connected to the Austrian grid either.

As additional measures, there is a solidarity agreement with Germany, and further agreements with Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy are to follow. On the part of OMV it was recently announced that intensive efforts were being made to increase the volumes available from Norway.

Exit from Russian gas based on three pillars and joint efforts in the EU

The Russian war of aggression had clearly shown how high the European and above all the Austrian dependence on Russian gas imports was, Gewessler confirmed.

In the past, mistakes had been made that had enormously aggravated this problem. By forcing the filling of natural gas storage facilities, the intention is to take precautions in time to get through the winter better. But this would not solve the basic problem, the Minister admitted, which is why she had commissioned the Austrian Energy Agency to prepare a comprehensive analysis.

The analysis clearly states that compliance with the EU requirements - no imports of Russian gas and oil from 2027 - is "no walk in the park". The path to be taken must in any case be based on three pillars, namely the reduction of consumption, the expansion of domestic gas production and the diversification of supplier countries.

It was also important to increase the strategic gas reserve as well as further legal precautions, which were decided today in the National Council. In addition, there was already a solidarity agreement with Germany, and others were being negotiated with Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy.

At the European level, the EU's common gas procurement platform would make a decisive contribution, the Minister was convinced.

Austrian Parliament