Austria threatens to seize Gazprom-held gas storage
Austria has again threatened Gazprom that it will seize control of its share of capacity at the Haidach gas storage facility near Salzburg if the Russian company does not make use of it.
Since war broke out in Ukraine, Austria's government has been accusing Gazprom of weaponising gas supply and intentionally leaving its capacity at Haidach unused. In May, it told the Russian company it would hand over operatorship of the capacity to others if the situation did not change.
Legislation that would allow the government to assume control if storage capacity is less than 10% utilised came into force on July 1. The Haidach facility is virtually empty, according to data published by Gas Infrastructure Europe.
"If customers do not store [gas] then the capacity must be handed over to others," Austrian energy minister Leonore Gewessler told a news conference. "It's critical infrastructure. We need it now in such a crisis. That is exactly what is happening now in the case of Gazprom and its storage at Haidach."
Industry regulator E-control has initiated the process for assuming control over the site, the minister said.
Austria is in a precarious position ahead of the coming winter, as it relies on Gazprom to cover four-fifths of its gas demand. Its gas storage facilities are only 44.5%, below the EU average of 60%. Like several of its neighbours, Austria reported last month that Russia had reduced its gas deliveries, ostensibly because of technical difficulties at the compressor station that handles flow via the Nord Stream pipeline. The government has responded by announcing plans to revive some coal-fired power generation in order to shore up its energy security in the coming winter.