Austrian gas hub fully operational again after deadly explosion

Austrian gas hub fully operational again after deadly explosion
The site of the December 12th blast. Photo: AFP
The major European gas pipeline hub in Austria that suffered a deadly explosion on Tuesday has resumed pumping gas abroad, its operator said Wednesday.

“All transit connections were put into operation again before midnight and are 100-percent operational,” Harald Stindl, Gas Connect Austria chief, told Oe1 public radio.

The explosion at the Baumgarten site on Tuesday killed one person and left 18 others injured, including one seriously. The cause is currently being investigated.

The compressor station in eastern Austria is one of Europe's main entry points for Russian gas and pumps it onwards to other countries including Italy and Germany.

It handles around 40 billion cubic metres of gas per year, or six million cubic metres per hour, equating to some 10 percent of the continent's needs.

On Tuesday, Italy declared a state of emergency for its gas sector and said it would tap its reserves to ensure that customers were not affected.

The incident sent European energy prices higher on concerns about winter gas and oil supplies as it suffers a cold snap and other infrastructure problems.

On Monday, one of Britain's most important North Sea oil pipelines was closed because of a crack, and supply from a major Norwegian gasfield was cut due to a power cut.

Stindl said that the cause of the blast might have been new equipment. He said that this was Baumgarten's first ever accident in 50 years of operation.