The Austrian government and E-Control—the country’s regulatory agency for gas and electricity—have announced a stage one alert with regard to the supply of natural gas as European countries rejected Moscow’s push for gas to be paid in rubles.
Austria’s gas emergency plan has three levels. The first level is triggered if there are reliable indications that gas supplies could deteriorate while the second is activated when the gas supply actually deteriorates. In this scenario, the government will encourage industries to use alternative sources of power.
The third level gets triggered when gas can no longer be supplied and current market demand cannot be met. In addition to encouraging the industry to adopt alternatives, the government will likely enact other energy control measures at this stage.
The reason for sounding the warning is due to “Russia's announcement that future gas deliveries will only be paid for in rubles,” the regulator said.
As the early warning stage has been activated, surveillance and monitoring of the gas situation has tightened. E-Control and the Austrian Gas Grid Management will deliver daily reports to the federal government and the climate protection ministry on the matter.
Gas deliveries from Russia to Austria have not been disrupted and are continuing without restrictions, E-Control stated. The country’s gas storage tanks are currently only 13 percent full, which the regulator claims corresponds to the average of recent years.
If there is a total failure in securing Russian gas supplies, stages in the emergency plan may be skipped, the regulator added.
The Austrian industry has also expressed opposition to the European Union’s plan to cut down Russian gas imports by two-thirds in 2023. Russia accounts for 80 percent of Austria’s gas imports.
Earlier, Germany had triggered the first stage of its three-stage gas supply emergency plan. Russia accounted for 55 percent of Germany’s gas imports last year.
Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke by phone on March 30 to discuss the issue. The Russian president reportedly reassured Scholz that payments for Russian energy could continue to be made in Euros.