Austria’s Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) wants to combat the country’s still very high dependence on Russian gas through government intervention. Gewessler said in Vienna that she wanted to oblige gas suppliers by law to gradually demonstrate an increasing proportion of non-Russian natural gas.

In December 2023, gas from Russia accounted for 98 percent of imports. This is a high since the start of the war of aggression against Ukraine, said the minister. “We are currently seeing a clear market failure. There is enough non-Russian natural gas – but the energy companies are not buying it.” However, a two-thirds majority in parliament is required for the corresponding change in the law, the minister continued.

The last big step towards dependence was the extension of the long-term supply contracts for Russian natural gas between the gas company Gazprom and the partially state-owned energy company OMV in 2018, it said. It is now important to examine and implement all legal options for exiting this “gag agreement” that runs until 2040, said Gewessler. A feature of the contract is a fixed purchase obligation (take-or-pay) in OMV’s supply contracts. So you have to pay even if no Russian gas is purchased.

Gewessler also advocated for a new security strategy in which an independent energy supply should be given a correspondingly high priority. The aim remains, as decided by the EU, to get by without Russian gas in a few years. Overall, gas consumption is going in the right direction. Gas consumption in Austria has fallen by a quarter from 100.3 terawatt hours in 2021 to 75.6 terawatt hours in 2023.