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What does Russia’s decision to cut gas to Poland mean for Austria?

Austria's Minister for Energy has confirmed gas supplies to Austria are continuing "without restriction" but warned a dependency on Russian energy must come to an end.

A Gazprom logo. Russian gas is crucial in Austria's energy supply. Photo: INA FASSBENDER / AFP
Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Poland on Wednesday. Photo: INA FASSBENDER / AFP

On Wednesday morning, Russia’s Gazprom stopped gas supplies flowing to Poland and threatened Bulgaria with similar action later in the day.

The move comes after both countries refused to comply with Vladimir Putin’s demands that customers must pay for natural gas in Roubles instead of Euros in retaliation to EU sanctions.

The stop to gas supplies in Poland has been confirmed by the European Network of Transmission System Operators.

Austria’s Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) confirmed on Wednesday morning that gas supplies were flowing as normal to Austria and were unaffected by the action in Poland. Austria uses different supply routes (via Nord Stream and Ukraine) to Bulgaria and Poland.

READ MORE: ‘An unprecedented situation’: How would a gas embargo impact Austria?

When asked in the Ö1 Morning Journal if there were any signs of a delivery stop for Austria, Gewessler said: “No, we do not have these signs.”

However, she expressed concerns about Austria relying on Russia for energy supplies and said: “We must do everything we can to end our dependence on Russian gas as quickly as possible.”

Austria is heavily dependent on Russian energy and sources around 80 percent of natural gas from Russia but a recent study by the Energy Agency shows that Austria could manage without Russian gas from 2027.

According to the study, which was commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment, it would require gas consumption to the reduced by 25 percent, a temporary tripling of alternative gas imports and the expansion of biogas and green hydrogen production in Austria.

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ENERGY

Vienna forced to dim street lighting and cancel some Christmas illuminations

Christmas illuminations in Vienna will also be scaled back this year as part of the city's energy saving measures.

Vienna forced to dim street lighting and cancel some Christmas illuminations

Vienna, a city known for its Christmas markets and its New Year concert, is cutting back on public lighting in the face of soaring energy prices.

“There will be no Christmas illuminations this year on the Ring,” the famous boulevard that encircles the centre of the Austrian capital, city spokeswoman Roberta Kraft told AFP.

READ MORE: Five of the biggest challenges facing Austria right now

And the lights at the Christmas market in the square in front of the city hall would only be switched on at night and not at dusk, as in previous years, “which is to say about an hour later, on average, every day”, she said.

The city authorities said they had not calculated exactly how much they would save, but the move comes after energy prices have skyrocketed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its response to Western sanctions.

Last Friday, the Austrian Energy Agency announced that its electricity price index for September rose by more than 256 percent year-on-year.

READ ALSO: Inflation at 9.2% in July: How to beat rising prices in Austria

Austria, with its population of nine million, is very dependent on tourism and its end-of-year celebrations are a major motor of the economy.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down much international travel, more than four million people visited Vienna’s famous Christmas markets in 2019.

In 2021, around 30 of Vienna’s shopping streets were lit up for seven hours a day, from November 12 until early January.

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