Austria presents emergency plan to reduce dependence on Russian gas

This decision comes with the aim of preventing a possible cut off from Moscow.

Austria presented an emergency plan on Wednesday aimed at rapidly reducing the share of gas it consumes from Russia from 80% to 70%, in order to prevent any possible cuts, a turning point for this country with strong ties. industries with Moscow.

The measures will greatly reduce our dependence on Russian gas“, declared to the journalists the ecologist minister in charge of energy Leonore Gewessler. For the first time, the State will constitute a strategic reserve with non-Russian gas accessible to companies, making it possible to cover the total consumption of the country for two winter months.

It will also impose the filling of all the facilities hitherto unused. It is not “more palatable» that the Gazprom subsidiary, GSA, does not store, underlined Leonore Gewessler. “If Gazprom does nothing“, other alternative providers “will have accessto infrastructure. “It is absolutely justified“.

A major strategic shift

The reserves allocated to Gazprom in the Haidach center near Salzburg, one of the largest in Central Europe, are currently empty. Hitherto connected to the German network, Haidach and the other reservoirs will also be connected to the Austrian ensure that domestic customers can be supplied” if necessary.

Austria reported on Wednesday a storage rate of 26%, for a total capacity of 95.5 terawatt-hours, higher than the European average and its annual consumption (89 TWh/year).

The objective is to achieveat least 80% before the start of the next heating season“, said the government in a press release. All the measures must be adopted in the coming days by a two-thirds majority in the form of amendments to the existing law. This announcement constitutes a strategic shift for this rich country of 9 million inhabitants, non-member of NATO, which has built its industrial success on privileged links with Russia.

Imports on the rise in recent years

Austria was the first Western country to sign a gas delivery contract with the USSR in 1968 and cheap imports have continued to rise in recent years despite Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. The Austrian group OMV renewed in 2018 its delivery contract with Gazprom until 2040.

Moscow has already cut off gas to Poland and Bulgaria, which have refused to pay their ruble bills as demanded by the Kremlin in response to EU sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine. The European Union has asked its member states to reduce their dependency by 2027.

SEE ALSO – War in Ukraine: Can the European Union do without Russian gas?

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