Austria to receive less Russian gas as Moscow steps up pressure

Austria's OMV energy company said on Thursday that it too would receive less Russian gas as Moscow steps up pressure on Europe.

Austria to receive less Russian gas as Moscow steps up pressure
The Schwechat OMV oil refinery near Vienna is among Europes largest inland refineries for mineral oil products. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Russia on Wednesday slashed gas supplies to the continent for the second day in a row, in a move blasted as “political” by Germany.

“We can confirm that we have been informed by (Russia’s) Gazprom about reduced delivery volumes,” said OMV in a statement emailed to AFP.

The company said supply to its customers was “ensured at the moment”.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: What is Austria’s emergency plan if Russia cuts gas supply?

“If necessary at all, since there is currently a significantly lower demand, these volumes can be replaced by storage volumes and volumes from the spot market,” it said.

OMV gave no further details on how much less gas it would receive and from when.

Several European countries, including Germany, are highly reliant upon Russian gas for their energy needs.

But since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, they have been battling to wean themselves off Russian power.

Austria’s gas plan

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.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How reliant is Austria on Russia for energy?

Last month, the federal government unveiled an emergency plan that would be activated if Russia cut its supply to the country, as The Local reported.

The plan contains mostly long-term measures, though, such as an increase of the strategic gas reserve by 7.4 terawatt hours (TWh) to 20 TWh using non-Russian gas. 

In the short term, the federal government said existing gas supply relationships with Norway are to be expanded and discussions are being held with companies in North Africa and Qatar. Austria is also part of an EU-wide initiative for the joint purchase of natural gas.

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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.