Austrian Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) said Austria does not oppose an oil embargo against Russia and is prepared to support the measure along with other European countries.
“Austria is ready to consistently support an oil embargo if the European Commission and the member states decide to do so”, the minister told reporters ahead of a special EU meeting of energy ministers in Brussels this Monday.
However, she added that an essential requirement for such a measure is that European countries be able to be united in the embargo. Austria has already stopped processing Russian oil in March, she mentioned.
The meeting between EU energy representatives is meant to discuss the bloc’s energy supply considering Russia had temporarily halted deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria. The ministers are also expected to talk about the EU’s plans for a possible oil embargo against the Kremlin.
Germany on board
After weeks of hesitance and attempts to reduce its energy dependence on Russia, Germany has said it would support an oil embargo against Moscow, The Local Germany reported.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the country was now prepared to manage without Russian oil for several years after reaching new supply contracts in the past few months.
The country’s Economic Affairs and Climate Action Minister Robert Habeck also said that Germany would support an oil embargo but that other EU members were “not yet ready”.
Oil vs Gas
While Austria might be prepared to do away with Russian oil when it comes to gas, the story is quite different.
The country sources around 80 per cent of natural gas from Russia, and experts believe Austria could only get rid of this dependency by 2027 if it manages to reduce its gas consumption by 25 per cent and expand biogas and green hydrogen domestic production.
In April, Austria announced a €5 billion investment towards storage and natural gas stockpiling, looking for contingency plans for next winter. This is in addition to €1.6 billion that had already been earmarked for Austria’s reserve gas supply.
Still, the country’s gas storage tanks, which should be 80 per cent full by the start of next autumn to last through winter, are now only at 18 per cent. Austria might be ready for an oil embargo, but it is still looking to diversify its sources of natural gas.