NewsAustria's ongoing Russian gas dependency sparks concerns amid Ukraine conflict

Austria's ongoing Russian gas dependency sparks concerns amid Ukraine conflict

Chancellor of Austria Karl Nehammer
Chancellor of Austria Karl Nehammer
Images source: © Getty Images | Pier Marco Tacca
ed. PRC
4:43 PM EST, November 20, 2023

Austria is yet to secure an alternative supply to Russian natural gas — a resource that currently satisfies 60% of the country's needs, according to the Monday's report by "Welt".

Even in the second year of the war in Ukraine, Austria is heavily reliant on Russian gas. According to information from the Austrian energy company, E-Control, around 60% of the natural gas imports are derived from Russia. In September this share spiked to as high as 80% — roughly the same ratio as at the war's onset.

Former E-Control chief, Walter Boltz, and the former head of OMV, Gerhard Roiss, said in an interview with dpa that there may be a shortage of alternatives should there be a disruption in supplies from Russia. The officials were critical of the Gas Connect Austria (GCA) pipeline operator for not actively promoting pipeline expansion from Germany, as the current capacity is limited.

Pipeline running through the war zone

The gas is still flowing from Russia, confirmed GCA's head, Stefan Wagenhofer. This gas gets to Austria via Ukraine, therefore the "pipeline is still running through the war zone".

As "Welt" pointed out, unlike Germany, Austria has not yet ceased using Russian gas, given that the existing supply agreement is in effect until 2040.

The Austrian representatives "did not wish to comment on whether OMV, a Gazprom contractor, had ever attempted to negotiate changes in the agreement," "Welt" understood. OMV assures that it "has secured alternative gas supplies in the event of a disruption".

On the other hand, most regional energy suppliers in Austria still rely largely on Russia. "One may think that these companies are burying their heads in the sand, hoping for the best," opined "Welt".

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