Austrian Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler called on domestic suppliers to speed up the process of decoupling from Russian gas at a meeting with energy companies on Monday.
At the meeting with energy companies, Gewessler discussed gas supply diversification plans as, according to her, the advances made in shifting away from Russian gas, while present, are insufficient in terms of progress and speed.
“It is about taking the last step,” she said after the meeting, pointing to the additional measure that is needed due to persistent uncertainties on the market while also noting that Austria is indeed prepared for the coming winter as storage facilities would be 80% full. APA reported.
She stressed that 13 terawatt hours of gas have already been registered for purchase via the European gas purchasing platform, representing over 10% of the annual supply.
At the same time, former E-Control head Walter Boltz warned Austria against complacency despite the recent recovery of wholesale gas costs following last year’s price jumps.
He also cautioned that a sudden supply stop could swiftly result in a shortage and price increases. “We must not let ourselves be lulled,” he said.
The Federation of Austrian Industry also urged the government to implement additional measures to ensure a secure gas supply.
One key concern is preventing a potential shortage resulting from the expiration of the gas transit contract between Ukraine and Russia by the end of 2024, as it said in a statement.
However, amid recent concerns, the Ukrainian Energy Ministry asserted its commitment to reliable gas transport at the start of June.
From the point of view of the Gas Heat Association (FGW), an expansion of the gas infrastructure is needed, especially from the direction of Germany and Slovenia.
A lack of concrete plans?
However, Gewessler’s call has already attracted criticism from energy analyst Johannes Benigni who pointed to a lack of concrete plans and financing in case of a loss of Russian gas supplies.
The same criticism came from the centre-left SPÖ and the right-wing FPÖ.
“Gewessler obviously still has no plan as to how she intends to guarantee the security of gas supply for the Austrian population in the medium and long term on the one hand and minimise dependence on Russia on the other,” SPÖ energy spokesman Alois Schroll claimed.
FPÖ energy spokesman Axel Kassegger also criticised the meeting, calling it a “contentless placebo event”, stating that the energy minister failed to provide concrete information.
In May, the European Commission noted that Austria does not have a clearly defined short-term plan to reduce Russian gas imports, concluding that “the potential for the production and transport of renewable gases is not yet sufficiently utilised.”
(Chiara Swaton | EURACTIV.de)
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