Austria has activated the early warning system in the emergency plan for the country’s gas supply, the Climate Ministry announced today.
This is the first level of its emergency plan to ensure gas supply over fears that Russia could cut off supplies if Western countries refused to make payments in rubles.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on Wednesday “everything will be done to ensure the gas supply for Austria’s households and businesses”.
Why was the alert activated?
This follows Russia’s recent announcement that future gas deliveries can only be paid for with Rubles as a consequence of international sanctions resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While many in the west have refused to pay in rubles, pointing out that payments in other currencies are allowed under the original contractual arrangements, there were fears the announcement may lead to a drop in gas supply.
Austria’s reserve tanks are currently at 13 percent. While this seems relatively low, this has been the average in recent years.
What is the emergency system?
The emergency system is a three-tiered plan, with several repercussions if a new level is reached.
The stages of the emergency plan are as follows.
I – Early warning level : This level is reached if there are concrete and reliable indications that the gas supply could deteriorate.
II – Alert level : If the gas supply situation actually deteriorates, the second level will be declared. Businesses are encouraged to use alternatives to natural gas whenever possible.
III – Emergency level : Gas can no longer be supplied and the current demand can no longer be met. Measures for industry, such as substituting natural gas with other energies as energy control measures, are to be put in place.
What does this mean for me?
As yet, the impact will not reach average Austrians.
The government confirmed to Austrian media that rationing of gas will only start at level three.
The main impact of the alert is that the situation will be “monitored more closely” Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) said.