12 Feb 2024 15:49

Austria looking for way out of its Gazprom gas contracts - Energy Minister

BERLIN. Feb 12 (Interfax) - Austria is looking for ways to exit its gas contracts with Gazprom , which were extended in 2018 through 2040, as well as ways to diversify gas sources to reduce dependence on Russia, Austria's Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology Leonor Gewessler said on Monday.

"We must prepare for OMV's exit from its long-term contracts," she said

She also announced the ministry's plans to require that Austrian companies take concrete steps to reduce the share of Russian gas in their purchases, and promised to assess the legal basis for this requirement.

"The market and its energy companies are not fulfilling their obligations to reduce dependence on Russian gas at a sufficient level. Diversification of gas imports is moving too slowly," the minister said.

Gewessler also said that the ministry has commissioned the Austrian Institute for Economic Research WIFO to conduct a study by this summer on the economic consequences of ending the contract and the risks of maintaining dependence on Russian gas.

The measures mentioned by Green Party representative Gewessler will require parliamentary approval, Western media has said. Gewessler's coalition partner is the conservative Austrian People's Party, led by Chancellor Karl Nehammer. Gewessler has not specified her opinion or level of participation in the development of the described measures, the media said.

At the same time, parliamentary elections in Austria are scheduled for the fall of 2024, and, preliminary polls show that public opinion is on the side of the far-right populists from the Austrian Freedom Party.