29 Apr 2022
One of the largest importers of Russian gas, Austrian energy group OMV is set to open Rouble accounts at Gazprombank in Switzerland, reports the Financial Times.
This followed Russian energy giant Gazprom informing Poland and Bulgaria it will stop gas supplies after they failed to meet Russia’s demand for payment in Roubles.
The Austrian government responded on Wednesday saying natural gas deliveries to the country from Russia continued unhindered, whilst it was attempting to find alternative sources.
Austria acquires 80% of its natural gas from Russia, a reliance that will take time to end now that the invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the need to move away from Europe’s cheapest gas source.
"Since the start of the war delivery volumes have not changed. In fact, they have increased," Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told a news conference earlier this week.
The Chancellor and energy minister Leonore Gewessler went on to say that the government was allocating as much as €5 billion to fill the country’s gas reservoirs to 80% of capacity by autumn, from the current level of 18%. This is in addition to €1.6 billion budgeted in 2022 for a strategic gas reserve, Reuters reports.
Furthermore, the Austrian Chancellor reiterated that when he met President Putin a fortnight ago, he was assured that Austria would continue to receive the gas volumes that had been contractually agreed. Putin also said Austria could continue to pay in Euros into Gazprombank, and they would then be converted into Roubles.
However, Nehammer said there no guarantees, as the pipelines supplying Austria run through Ukraine. As such, whilst working alongside the European Commission on joint purchases for EU member countries, Austria and OMV are looking to obtain additional gas supplies, the Chancellor added.