Austria's Emergency Plan To Cut Russian Gas Dependency

Russia-Ukraine War: For the first time, the government will build a strategic reserve with non-Russian gas accessible to all industries.

Austria's Emergency Plan To Cut Russian Gas Dependency

Russia-Ukraine War: Austrian gas storage is at 26% capacity with goal to reach 80%. (Representational)

Vienna:

Austria on Wednesday presented an emergency plan to reduce its reliance on Russian gas over potential supply cuts from Moscow as tensions soar over the war in Ukraine.

Under the plan, the country aims to reduce the share of gas it consumes from Russia from 80 to 70 percent of the total.

"The measures will strongly reduce our dependence on Russian gas," Energy and Climate Action Minister Leonore Gewessler told reporters.

For the first time, the government will build a strategic reserve with non-Russian gas accessible to all industries, which would cover total consumption for two months in the winter.

It will also bar storage facilities from remaining empty.

Storage facilities of Russian energy giant Gazprom in Haidach, near Salzburg, are empty.

Gewessler said it was "no longer acceptable" for Gazprom's subsidiary, GSA, to not stock up.

Other suppliers will have access to the facilities "if Gazprom does nothing", Gewessler added. "It is absolutely justified."

The European Union is aiming to slash its reliance on Russian gas by two thirds this year, but it has been reluctant to ban it outright as countries such as Germany depend on Russian supplies and fear that it would damage their economies.

The Haidach reservoirs are linked to the German gas network, but it will now be attached to the Austrian network to ensure domestic clients get supplies, she said.

Austrian gas storage is at 26 percent capacity, and the goal is to reach 80 percent before the next heating season, the government said.

The measures must be adopted by a two-third majority of lawmakers in the coming days.

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